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“Thunderbolt Fantasy” Q&A by Michelle Tymon (J!-ENT Interviews & Articles)

June 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Thunderbolt Fantasy” Q&A @ Sakura-Con 2017 (L-R: Yi-Tsun Hsaio, Koh Kitaoka, Liang-Hsun Huang, Takanori Aki, Gen Urobuchi, Chen-Ching Ting and Digitarou). Photo by Michelle Tymon


In Japan, “Thunderbolt Fantasy” has amazed viewers all over the world.

A 13-episode Japanese-Taiwanese glove puppetry television series created and written by Gen Urobuchi, the series is a collaboration between Nitroplus, Good Smile Company and Taiwanese Puppet production company, Pili International Multimedia.

The series aired in Japan back in July 2016 and with a series which aired in Taiwan, China and Japan, two manga adaptations have followed.  And a sequel is currently in production.

The series is set in the East and is a fantasy setting.  The story focuses on Dan Fei and her brother, guardians of a sword known as the Tian Xing Jian.  And they are being pursued by the evil Xuan Gui Zong clan who are seeking to obtain the sword for their master, Mie Tian Hai.

Recently, J!-ENT’s Michelle Tymon had the opportunity to take part in a media Q&A for “Thunderbolt Fantasy” at Sakura-Con 2017 in Seattle, Washington with Gen Urobuchi (writer and PC game maker from nitroplus and best known for “Fate/Zero”, “Magical Girl Madoka Magica”), Digitarou (President of nitroplus), Koh Kitaoka (producer of “Touken Ranbu”), Aki Takanori (Good Smile Company) and Pili International Multimedia – Liang-Hsun Huang (Head Puppeteer, 5th gen), Chen-Ching Ting a.k.a. “Uncle Cat” (Star Senior Puppeteer) and Yi-tsun Hsiao (Lead Puppeteer and Instructor).


How are you all enjoying Seattle and Sakura-con?
Urobuchi: This is actually my second time in Seattle. Four years ago when they first invited me here, it was also my first time in America. So up until then, my only impressions of America were through “Gotham City” and “Grand Theft Auto.” Because of that, I was so surprised at how beautiful and quiet Seattle was. The event and being in Seattle basically completely flipped my impression of America and being in Seattle again, I’ve been reminded of its beauty. It also may be one of the most memorable cities for me.
Pili: This is my first time coming to Seattle and America, as well as my first time attending an anime convention outside of Asia. I feel that the atmosphere is rather different. In Asia, I feel like the convention attendees seem like they’re more going to an exhibit. But here, it feels more like a carnival, where everyone is sharing the fun and love for anime.

I grew up in Japan, so I would see Japanese puppet show serials on NHK for like “Saiyuki,” so I was excited when I saw the promotional video for “Thunderbolt Fantasy.” Was the story of “Thunderbolt Fantasy” something that was on your mind prior to seeing Pili and what they can do, or was it created after you saw the puppets?
Urobuchi: This was a new story that I created, so that we could use the puppets.

Season 1 has an absolutely amazing voice cast. When I saw the pv, not only was I excited about the use of puppets, but Everyone who appeared were legendary status. If they can talk about it, can we expect another great lineup of voice cast members and can they mention any names yet?
Urobuchi: We haven’t even started the auditions yet for the voice cast for season 2. So currently, we really can’t say anything about it. We’re just getting started on all of that.
Good Smile: Actually, who would you like to see in it? Do you have anyone that you can recommend?
Urobuchi: The thing with “Thunderbolt Fantasy” is that unlike anime, all of the expressions of the characters are presented through movement, since their facial expressions don’t change. So for the voice cast, we also looked for voice actors who are known to be very expressive in their acting and filled with emotions.
J!-ENT: Actually, if I could recommend one person for the cast, I would recommend Akira Ishida.

In episode 0, I saw how much work went into making these beautiful puppets but I also saw them being thrown around and treated rather roughly for some of the action scenes. Was there any particular time that any of the puppets broke so badly that production had to stop?
Pili: For the puppets, we would make different ones for each of the characters. We would have one for the quiet and calmer scenes, where they would just be talking and moving around normally, and we would make one for the fighting scenes, as well. The reason being that inevitably in the fighting scenes, some of the puppets might get damaged. So usually, we would make three of them. We also did the same with the weapons. We had multiple ones made for all the puppets.

Now that you’re done with season 1 and you’re working on season 2, is there anything you learned during season 1 that you are doing different in season two?
Urobuchi: Well for season 2, we’re trying to see if we can get the puppets to do even more expressions. And other than that, we’d like to go even more all out with the action scenes in season 2.

Were any one of the characters harder to control than the others. I know that Lǐn Xuě Yā (Rinsetsua) was always smoking a pipe so that seemed to take more attention but…
Pili: The difficulty actually depended more on what motions the characters would be making, rather than one character being more difficult than another. It all depends on what kind of things they need to do, what kind of poses and what kind of movement. Normal actions just require one puppeteer using both hands, but some actions require two to three puppeteers to do the actions. Difficult motions would include like squatting down, or kneeling down to pick something up. In those cases, you need to move the knees, legs, feet, and everything else.

Just one final question, but is the TMR puppet going to make an appearance in the show?
Urobuchi: That is our intention, yes. We’re planning to make him a very important character.


For more information on “Thunderbolt Fantasy”, please click here.

Photos by Michelle Tymon

Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 4 Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

aldnoah-4

The final episodes of second season of “Aldnoah.Zero” is action-driven and for the most part concludes with an ending that fans of the series will be content with! If you love deep, well-written and exciting mecha sci-fi, then definitely give “Aldnoah.Zero” a chance! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Olympia Knights/Aniplex, Project AZ. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 4 Limited Edition

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 19-24 (150 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: April 19, 2016


Original Created by Gen Urobuchi

Directed by Ei Aoki

Series Composition by Katsuhiko Takayama

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Character Design by Masaki Matsumoto

Art Director by Akira Ito

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures, TROYCA


Featuring the voices of:

Kensho Ono/Zach Aguilar as Slaine Troyard

Natsuki Hanae/Max Mittelman as Inaho Kaiduka

Sora Amamiya/Erika Harlacher as Asseylum Vers Allusia

Ai Kakuma/Christine Marie Cabanos as Nina Klein

Ai Kayano/Julie Anne Taylor as Darzana Magbaredge

Hiroki Yasumoto/Patrick Seitz as Vlad

Inori Minase/Sandy Fox as Eddelrittuo

Kazuya Nakai/Matthew Mercer as Koichiro Marito

Kengo Kawanishi/Kyle McCarley as Kisaki Matsuribi

Kousuke Toriumi/Ethan Murray as Soma Yagarai

Makoto Furukawa/Alan Lee as Shigou Kakei

Mikako Komatsu/Erica Mendez as Inko Amifumi

Sachika Misawa/Cristina Vee as Rayet Areash

Sayaka Ohara/Erica Lindbeck as Yuki Kaiduka

Shinji Ogawa/Geoffrey Chalmers as Rayregalia Vers Rayvers

Sho Hayami/Lex Lang as Cruhteo

Sōma Saitō/Lucien Dodge as Yuutarou Tsumugi

Taishi Murata/Bryce Papenbrook as Calm Craftman

Takahiro Sakurai /Todd Haberkorn as Trillam

Toru Ohkawa as Saazbaum

Yoshitaka Yamaya/Bobby Thong as Okisuke “Okojo” Mikuni

Yu Shimamura/Trina Loo as Kaoru Mizusaki

Yuki Kaida/Carrie Kernanen as Femieanne


At long last, the war between Earth and VERS is about to come to an end. Many have shed tears at the sight of the battlefield, where numerous lights flare, then die out. Slaine, resigned to his fate, is determined to commit all his forces to prepare for the final showdown. Inaho steels himself to answer the call of his own destiny, along with the crew of the Deucalion. Elsewhere, a solitary girl resolves to confront her fate and watches over the final moments of their battle…


The second season of “Aldnoah.Zero” continues with a storyline that is set two years after what had happened at Saazbaum’s Landing Castle.

As Slaine continues on his goal to create a new world, Lemrina Vers Envers pretends to be Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia as she is healing from her wounds.

But when Princess Asseylum wakes up, what will she think about this new world that Slaine is trying to create?

Find out in the final fourth volume of “Aldnoah.Zero”!

What is “ALDNOAH.ZERO” all about?

From Gen Urobuchi, the creator of “Fate/Zero”, “Phantom – The Animation” and writer for “Psycho-Pass” and “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, comes the 2014 sci-fi anime series titled “ALDNOAH.ZERO”.

Featuring anime production from A-1 Pictures and TROYCA, the series is directed by Ei Aoki (“Fate/Zero”, “Ga-Rei Zero”, “Girls Bravo”), screenplay by Katsuhiko Takayama (“Cat Planet Cuties”, “Baka and Test – Summon the Beats”, “ef: a tale of melodies”, “Stratos 4”), music by Hiroyuki Sawano (“Blue Exorcist”, “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings”, “Attack on Titan”), character designs by Masako Matsumoto and art direction by Akira Ito (“AKB0048”, “Baccano!”, “Durara!!”, “Elfen Lied”).

The 24-episode anime series debuted back in July 2014 and ended in March 2015. And now the anime series has been released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex Inc.

“Aldnoah.Zero” begins with how Earth was attacked by the Vers Empire.

Back in 1972, an ancient alien hypergate was discovered on the moon and humans have used this technology to migrate to Mars and begin colonizing the planet. The settlers on Mars discovered new advanced technology and would create the Vers Empire and later claim the planet Mars and the advanced technology as their own. The Vers Empire look at them as elite and evolved versions of humanity and are prejudice against the Terrans (Earth-born humans).

The Vers Empire would declare war on Earth and in 1999, the hypergate on the Moon was destroyed but in the process, shattering the Moon leaving debris floating around the planet Earth.

This would lead to a cease fire for nearly 15 years until the Vers Empire would once again launch a new attack in order to conquer Earth.

We are introduced to Inaho Kaizuki, a pilot in training, who lives in the city of Shinawara with his sister Yuki, a Kataphrakt pilot for the Earth’s military.

One day when Inaho and friends go to see the arrival of Asseylum Vers, the Princess of Vers, terrorists attack and it is assumed that the Princess was killed. In retaliation, the Martian Vers Orbital Knights do a full assault on Earth and destroying a number of major cities.

While holed up in school, Inaho and his friends decide to fight against the Vers.

In vol. 2, the conflict escalates as Sauzbaum makes a direct attack on UFE headquarters in order to kill the princess! Can she be protected during the full onslaught?

As the finale of the first season features both Asseylum and Inaho left for dead, vol. 3 takes place 19 months after the incident with Inaho making his return after being shot by Slaine.

As UFE forces and the Vers are lead into battle, Inaho and Slaine will confront each other once again!

In volume 4, Slaine continues on with his goal to create a new world.  As he has Lemrina disguising herself as Princess Asseylum, she announces for the Martian Knights to unite under Slaine’s banner.

Meanwhile, Princess Asseylum recovers from her deep coma but what will happen when she finds out what Slaine has done and how he has changed?


“Aldnoah.Zero” consists of the following main characters:

  • Inaho Kaizuka – A pilot in training living on Earth and the top of his class. He lives with his older sister, Yuki and is often stoic and showing no emotion. He is good with coming up with strategies to fight against the Martian Knights.
  • Slaine Troyard – A Terran (Earth-born human) who is a slave to the Versian County Cruhteno and the nemesis of Inaho. He is close to Princess Asseylum and is responsible for saving her. He is very loyal to the Princess.
  • Asseylum Vers Allusia – The First Princess of the Vers Empire and is close to Slaine. She is curious about Earth and unlike the Vers Empires, she has no ill feelings towards the Terrans.
  • Inko Amifumi – Inaho’s childhood friend and classmate. She is a member of the Student Council Committee and has feelings towards Inaho.
  • Rayet Areash – A Martian girl living on Earth. She and her friends are responsible for the assassination attempt on Princess Asseylum, in exchange for the promise of extraction back to Mars and knighthood under the Vers Empire.
  • Eddelrittuo – A young Martian girl who serves Princess Asseylum as her maid.
  • Cruhteo – A Count of the Vers Empire and one of the Martian Knights who often abuses Slaine.
  • Saazbaum – A County ofthe Vers Empire, one of the Martian Knights and one desperately wanting a war between Mars and Earth.
  • Yuki Kaizuka – Older sister of Inaho and a Warrant Officer in the United Forces of Earth. She can pilot a Kataphract and often worries about her younger brother.
  • Koichiro Marito – A Lieutenant in the United Forces of Earth. He is a training instructor at Inaho’s high school. A veteran of the War of 1999 and suffers PTSD due to the war, he is fearful of the power of Aldnoah, having witnessed it first hand. He also is aware that the governments of Earth has not publicized any information about what happened 15 years ago.
  • Lemrina Vers Envers – A princess of the Vers Empire and Princess Asseylum’s half-sister.  She is often jealous of her sister and Slaine’s fondness towards Asseylum.  She is handicapped and is in a wheelchair.
  • Klancain – The eldest son of Count Cruhteo who is loyal to Princess Asseylum.

 

VIDEO:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 4” is presented in 1080p High Definition. One of the first things you will notice is how detailed backgrounds are and also mechanical designs. As a sci-fi series, the futuristic settings are gorgeously painted, the mecha are well-designed and as for character designs, while line art is simple, but shaded, it’s the backgrounds and environments that helps boost the overall presentation of the anime series.

But overall anime production from A-1 Pictures is very good and I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts.

AUDIO:

“Aldnoah.Zero” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack.Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 4” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening “Harmonious”
  • Textless Ending “Genesis”

EXTRAS:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 4” comes with a slipcase with an two collectible postcards and a special booklet “Mecha Archives 2” by ALDNOAH.ZERO xI-IV (Mecha Design.


For sci-fi and mecha fans, every few years, there is an always an anime series that captivates you because of its deep storyline, with heavy attention to mecha, its characters and typically revolving around some sort of war, “Aldnoah.Zero” is one of those series that does a magnificent job of capturing the politics and challenges of war.

And here we are with the final volume of “Aldnoah.Zero”!

Slaine is determined to create his new world, knowing that Princess Asseylum would not support his selfish goal.

As Princess Asseylum awakes from her deep coma, what happens when she regains all her memories and finds out what Slaine has done.

On Earth, Inaho prepares a strategy to fight the Martian Knights, but what will happen to him if he continues to over use his eye?

The storyline of the Vers Empire vs. Earth concludes!  Who will become the victor?  Or will someone find a way to prevent Slaine from creating his twisted concept of the world?

As for the Blu-ray release, A-1 Pictures has done a great job in providing a series with gorgeous art backgrounds and mechanical design. Picture quality is very good via HD and the lossless audio soundtrack is stereo but dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear, as with its captivating musical score. Both Japanese and English soundtracks sound great and voice talents on both ends are well-done! There are not many special features with this fourth volume but you do get a special booklet and collectable pin-ups.

Overall, the final episodes of second season of “Aldnoah.Zero” is action-driven and for the most part concludes with an ending that fans of the series will be content with!

If you love deep, well-written and exciting mecha sci-fi, then definitely give “Aldnoah.Zero” a chance!

Recommended!

Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 3 Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

aldnoah-3

The second season of “Aldnoah.Zero” begins with heavy action as the battle between the UFE and Vers heats up and setting up the latest confrontation between Inaho and Slaine! If you love deep, well-written and exciting mecha sci-fi, then definitely give “Aldnoah.Zero” vol. 3 a chance!  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Olympia Knights/Aniplex, Project AZ. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 3 Limited Edition

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 13-18 (150 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: January 26, 2016


Original Created by Gen Urobuchi

Directed by Ei Aoki

Series Composition by Katsuhiko Takayama

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Character Design by Masaki Matsumoto

Art Director by Akira Ito

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures, TROYCA


Featuring the voices of:

Kensho Ono/Zach Aguilar as Slaine Troyard

Natsuki Hanae/Max Mittelman as Inaho Kaiduka

Sora Amamiya/Erika Harlacher as Asseylum Vers Allusia

Ai Kakuma/Christine Marie Cabanos as Nina Klein

Ai Kayano/Julie Anne Taylor as Darzana Magbaredge

Hiroki Yasumoto/Patrick Seitz as Vlad

Inori Minase/Sandy Fox as Eddelrittuo

Kazuya Nakai/Matthew Mercer as Koichiro Marito

Kengo Kawanishi/Kyle McCarley as Kisaki Matsuribi

Kousuke Toriumi/Ethan Murray as Soma Yagarai

Makoto Furukawa/Alan Lee as Shigou Kakei

Mikako Komatsu/Erica Mendez as Inko Amifumi

Sachika Misawa/Cristina Vee as Rayet Areash

Sayaka Ohara/Erica Lindbeck as Yuki Kaiduka

Shinji Ogawa/Geoffrey Chalmers as Rayregalia Vers Rayvers

Sho Hayami/Lex Lang as Cruhteo

Sōma Saitō/Lucien Dodge as Yuutarou Tsumugi

Taishi Murata/Bryce Papenbrook as Calm Craftman

Takahiro Sakurai /Todd Haberkorn as Trillam

Toru Ohkawa as Saazbaum

Yoshitaka Yamaya/Bobby Thong as Okisuke “Okojo” Mikuni

Yu Shimamura/Trina Loo as Kaoru Mizusaki

Yuki Kaida/Carrie Kernanen as Femieanne


The year is 2016— a year and a half after the assassination of Princess Asseylum. Despite his status as a Terran, Slaine has been granted the title of Mars Knight, is now served by his own personal subordinate, and has been taking part in battles against the United Forces of Earth. Meanwhile on Earth, the Deucalion is finishing up its repairs as, one by one, the ship’s former crew members return in order to proceed to a new battlefront.


The second season of “Aldnoah.Zero” begins with a storyline that is set 19 months after what had happened at Saazbaum’s Landing Castle and what happened to Asseylum and Inaho but also Slaine and Saazbaum.

Meanwhile, the UFE forces at Trident Base prepare for an attack on an asteroid base, Marineros which is owned by the Vers which leads to a confrontation between Inaho and Slaine once again!

But what about Princess Asseylum?  Is she alive?

Find out in “Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 3”!

What is “ALDNOAH.ZERO” all about?

From Gen Urobuchi, the creator of “Fate/Zero”, “Phantom – The Animation” and writer for “Psycho-Pass” and “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, comes the 2014 sci-fi anime series titled “ALDNOAH.ZERO”.

Featuring anime production from A-1 Pictures and TROYCA, the series is directed by Ei Aoki (“Fate/Zero”, “Ga-Rei Zero”, “Girls Bravo”), screenplay by Katsuhiko Takayama (“Cat Planet Cuties”, “Baka and Test – Summon the Beats”, “ef: a tale of melodies”, “Stratos 4”), music by Hiroyuki Sawano (“Blue Exorcist”, “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings”, “Attack on Titan”), character designs by Masako Matsumoto and art direction by Akira Ito (“AKB0048”, “Baccano!”, “Durara!!”, “Elfen Lied”).

The 24-episode anime series debuted back in July 2014 and ended in March 2015. And now the anime series has been released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex Inc.

“Aldnoah.Zero” begins with how Earth was attacked by the Vers Empire.

Back in 1972, an ancient alien hypergate was discovered on the moon and humans have used this technology to migrate to Mars and begin colonizing the planet. The settlers on Mars discovered new advanced technology and would create the Vers Empire and later claim the planet Mars and the advanced technology as their own. The Vers Empire look at them as elite and evolved versions of humanity and are prejudice against the Terrans (Earth-born humans).

The Vers Empire would declare war on Earth and in 1999, the hypergate on the Moon was destroyed but in the process, shattering the Moon leaving debris floating around the planet Earth.

This would lead to a cease fire for nearly 15 years until the Vers Empire would once again launch a new attack in order to conquer Earth.

We are introduced to Inaho Kaizuki, a pilot in training, who lives in the city of Shinawara with his sister Yuki, a Kataphrakt pilot for the Earth’s military.

One day when Inaho and friends go to see the arrival of Asseylum Vers, the Princess of Vers, terrorists attack and it is assumed that the Princess was killed. In retaliation, the Martian Vers Orbital Knights do a full assault on Earth and destroying a number of major cities.

While holed up in school, Inaho and his friends decide to fight against the Vers.

In vol. 2, the conflict escalates as Sauzbaum makes a direct attack on UFE headquarters in order to kill the princess! Can she be protected during the full onslaught?

As the finale of the first season features both Asseylum and Inaho left for dead, vol. 3 takes place 19 months after the incident with Inaho making his return after being shot by Slaine.

And now, as UFE forces and the Vers are lead into battle, Inaho and Slaine will confront each other once again!


“Aldnoah.Zero” consists of the following main characters:

  • Inaho Kaizuka – A pilot in training living on Earth and the top of his class. He lives with his older sister, Yuki and is often stoic and showing no emotion. He is good with coming up with strategies to fight against the Martian Knights.
  • Slaine Troyard – A Terran (Earth-born human) who is a slave to the Versian County Cruhteno and the nemesis of Inaho. He is close to Princess Asseylum and is responsible for saving her. He is very loyal to the Princess.
  • Asseylum Vers Allusia – The First Princess of the Vers Empire and is close to Slaine. She is curious about Earth and unlike the Vers Empires, she has no ill feelings towards the Terrans.
  • Inko Amifumi – Inaho’s childhood friend and classmate. She is a member of the Student Council Committee and has feelings towards Inaho.
  • Rayet Areash – A Martian girl living on Earth. She and her friends are responsible for the assassination attempt on Princess Asseylum, in exchange for the promise of extraction back to Mars and knighthood under the Vers Empire.
  • Eddelrittuo – A young Martian girl who serves Princess Asseylum as her maid.
  • Cruhteo – A Count of the Vers Empire and one of the Martian Knights who often abuses Slaine.
  • Saazbaum – A County ofthe Vers Empire, one of the Martian Knights and one desperately wanting a war between Mars and Earth.
  • Yuki Kaizuka – Older sister of Inaho and a Warrant Officer in the United Forces of Earth. She can pilot a Kataphract and often worries about her younger brother.
  • Koichiro Marito – A Lieutenant in the United Forces of Earth. He is a training instructor at Inaho’s high school. A veteran of the War of 1999 and suffers PTSD due to the war, he is fearful of the power of Aldnoah, having witnessed it first hand. He also is aware that the governments of Earth has not publicized any information about what happened 15 years ago.

 

VIDEO:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 3” is presented in 1080p High Definition. One of the first things you will notice is how detailed backgrounds are and also mechanical designs. As a sci-fi series, the futuristic settings are gorgeously painted, the mecha are well-designed and as for character designs, while line art is simple, but shaded, it’s the backgrounds and environments that helps boost the overall presentation of the anime series.

But overall anime production from A-1 Pictures is very good and I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts.

AUDIO:

“Aldnoah.Zero” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack.Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 3” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening “&Z”
  • Textless Ending “Genesis”
  • Trailer – Featuring the English version trailer of “Aldnoah.Zero”
  • Commercials – Featuring three commercials
  • ALDINOAH.ZERO EXTRA ARCHIVES – (47:37) Featuring various scenes from the first 12 episodes.

EXTRAS:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 3” comes with a slipcase with an illustration by I-IV (Mecha Design), two collectible postcards, a 48-page manga for “ALDNOAH.ZERO EXTRA EPISODE”.


aldnoah-3b

For sci-fi and mecha fans, every few years, there is an always an anime series that captivates you because of its deep storyline, high attention to mecha, its characters and typically revolving around some sort of war.

While the concept is quite banal in Japanese animation, what’s more important is how the story sticks out, while others await for an anime series that can deliver in serious plots and battles in comparison to anime classic “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Neon Genesis Evangelion”.

While “Aldnoah.Zero” has elements that people have seen before, in some ways, the anime series feels as if it was inspired by classic “Mobile Suit Gundam” and the sci-fi series “Stargate”.

With the third volume of “Aldnoah.Zero”, the first six episodes of season two (or episodes 13-18) features what had happened to Inaho and Asseylum after they were shot.

Fastforwarding 19 months later, Inaho is back after surviving a near tragic ordeal, but what has happened to Prince Asseylum?  Meanwhile, because of that incident, Inaho may have benefited from what had transpired and with Inaho’s return, this may be the help that the UFE needs to fight back against their enemies.

Meanwhile, the Vers Empire has named another Princess, Lemrina, who has disguised herself as Asseylum.  But what has happened to the real Princess Asseylum?  Did she survive the shooting?

Featuring heavy-action as the UFE and Vers continue their battle with once another, Inaho and Slaine will once confront each other once again in battle!

As for the Blu-ray release, A-1 Pictures has done a great job in providing a series with gorgeous art backgrounds and mechanical design. Picture quality is very good via HD and the lossless audio soundtrack is stereo but dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear, as with its captivating musical score. Both Japanese and English soundtracks sound great and voice talents on both ends are well-done! Also, included on the Blu-ray are several special features a special compilation of the first 12 episodes.  As for extras, you get an awesome “ALDNOAH.ZERO EXTRA EPISODE” manga booklet.

Overall, the second season of “Aldnoah.Zero” begins with heavy action as the battle between the UFE and Vers heats up and setting up the latest confrontation between Inaho and Slaine! If you love deep, well-written and exciting mecha sci-fi, then definitely give “Aldnoah.Zero” vol. 3 a chance!  Recommended!

Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 2 Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

aldnoah-2a

The conclusion of the first season of “Aldnoah.Zero” is quite riveting and all-out exciting and the first season concludes with a very shocking finale! If you love deep, well-written and exciting mecha sci-fi, “Aldnoah.Zero” vol. 2 is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Olympia Knights/Aniplex, Project AZ. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 2 Limited Edition

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 7-12 (150 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: October 27, 2015


Original Created by Gen Urobuchi

Directed by Ei Aoki

Series Composition by Katsuhiko Takayama

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Character Design by Masaki Matsumoto

Art Director by Akira Ito

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures, TROYCA


Featuring the voices of:

Kensho Ono/Zach Aguilar as Slaine Troyard

Natsuki Hanae/Max Mittelman as Inaho Kaiduka

Sora Amamiya/Erika Harlacher as Asseylum Vers Allusia

Ai Kakuma/Christine Marie Cabanos as Nina Klein

Ai Kayano/Julie Anne Taylor as Darzana Magbaredge

Hiroki Yasumoto/Patrick Seitz as Vlad

Inori Minase/Sandy Fox as Eddelrittuo

Kazuya Nakai/Matthew Mercer as Koichiro Marito

Kengo Kawanishi/Kyle McCarley as Kisaki Matsuribi

Kousuke Toriumi/Ethan Murray as Soma Yagarai

Makoto Furukawa/Alan Lee as Shigou Kakei

Mikako Komatsu/Erica Mendez as Inko Amifumi

Sachika Misawa/Cristina Vee as Rayet Areash

Sayaka Ohara/Erica Lindbeck as Yuki Kaiduka

Shinji Ogawa/Geoffrey Chalmers as Rayregalia Vers Rayvers

Sho Hayami/Lex Lang as Cruhteo

Sōma Saitō/Lucien Dodge as Yuutarou Tsumugi

Taishi Murata/Bryce Papenbrook as Calm Craftman

Takahiro Sakurai /Todd Haberkorn as Trillam

Toru Ohkawa as Saazbaum

Yoshitaka Yamaya/Bobby Thong as Okisuke “Okojo” Mikuni

Yu Shimamura/Trina Loo as Kaoru Mizusaki

Yuki Kaida/Carrie Kernanen as Femieanne


While being interrogated under the assumption that he knew something, Slaine remained silent to protect Princess Asseylum, who had saved his life when they first met five years ago. Meanwhile, Inaho, Asseylum, and the others head to the United Forces of Earth Headquarters on the Deucalion, as Count Saazbaum prepares to launch his attack. Having learned Count Saazbaum’s ulterior motives, Slaine sets out to save Asseylum.

The fierce battle on the snowy field build in intensity – there, Inaho, Slain, and Asseylum find themselves in an unexpected situation.


Slaine has been captured and is being tortured for information, meanwhile, Rayet’s plan to assassinate Princess Asseylum goes into effect.

All this and more as Count Saazbaum launches his attack against the United forces of Earth Headquarters and what happens when Inaho and Slaine confront each other?

More action that one can expect in this second volume of the exciting anime series “Aldoah.Zero”!

What is “ALDNOAH.ZERO” all about?

From Gen Urobuchi, the creator of “Fate/Zero”, “Phantom – The Animation” and writer for “Psycho-Pass” and “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, comes the 2014 sci-fi anime series titled “ALDNOAH.ZERO”.

Featuring anime production from A-1 Pictures and TROYCA, the series is directed by Ei Aoki (“Fate/Zero”, “Ga-Rei Zero”, “Girls Bravo”), screenplay by Katsuhiko Takayama (“Cat Planet Cuties”, “Baka and Test – Summon the Beats”, “ef: a tale of melodies”, “Stratos 4”), music by Hiroyuki Sawano (“Blue Exorcist”, “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings”, “Attack on Titan”), character designs by Masako Matsumoto and art direction by Akira Ito (“AKB0048”, “Baccano!”, “Durara!!”, “Elfen Lied”).

The 24-episode anime series debuted back in July 2014 and ended in March 2015. And now the anime series has been released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex Inc.

“Aldnoah.Zero” begins with how Earth was attacked by the Vers Empire.

Back in 1972, an ancient alien hypergate was discovered on the moon and humans have used this technology to migrate to Mars and begin colonizing the planet. The settlers on Mars discovered new advanced technology and would create the Vers Empire and later claim the planet Mars and the advanced technology as their own. The Vers Empire look at them as elite and evolved versions of humanity and are prejudice against the Terrans (Earth-born humans).

The Vers Empire would declare war on Earth and in 1999, the hypergate on the Moon was destroyed but in the process, shattering the Moon leaving debris floating around the planet Earth.

This would lead to a cease fire for nearly 15 years until the Vers Empire would once again launch a new attack in order to conquer Earth.

We are introduced to Inaho Kaizuki, a pilot in training, who lives in the city of Shinawara with his sister Yuki, a Kataphrakt pilot for the Earth’s military.

One day when Inaho and friends go to see the arrival of Asseylum Vers, the Princess of Vers, terrorists attack and it is assumed that the Princess was killed. In retaliation, the Martian Vers Orbital Knights do a full assault on Earth and destroying a number of major cities.

While holed up in school, Inaho and his friends decide to fight against the Vers.

In vol. 2, the conflict escalates as Sauzbaum makes a direct attack on UFE headquarters in order to kill the princess!  Can she be protected during the full onslaught?


“Aldnoah.Zero” consists of the following main characters:

  • Inaho Kaizuka – A pilot in training living on Earth and the top of his class. He lives with his older sister, Yuki and is often stoic and showing no emotion. He is good with coming up with strategies to fight against the Martian Knights.
  • Slaine Troyard – A Terran (Earth-born human) who is a slave to the Versian County Cruhteno and the nemesis of Inaho. He is close to Princess Asseylum and is responsible for saving her. He is very loyal to the Princess.
  • Asseylum Vers Allusia – The First Princess of the Vers Empire and is close to Slaine. She is curious about Earth and unlike the Vers Empires, she has no ill feelings towards the Terrans.
  • Inko Amifumi – Inaho’s childhood friend and classmate. She is a member of the Student Council Committee and has feelings towards Inaho.
  • Rayet Areash – A Martian girl living on Earth. She and her friends are responsible for the assassination attempt on Princess Asseylum, in exchange for the promise of extraction back to Mars and knighthood under the Vers Empire.
  • Eddelrittuo – A young Martian girl who serves Princess Asseylum as her maid.
  • Cruhteo – A Count of the Vers Empire and one of the Martian Knights who often abuses Slaine.
  • Saazbaum – A County ofthe Vers Empire, one of the Martian Knights and one desperately wanting a war between Mars and Earth.
  • Yuki Kaizuka – Older sister of Inaho and a Warrant Officer in the United Forces of Earth. She can pilot a Kataphract and often worries about her younger brother.
  • Koichiro Marito – A Lieutenant in the United Forces of Earth. He is a training instructor at Inaho’s high school. A veteran of the War of 1999 and suffers PTSD due to the war, he is fearful of the power of Aldnoah, having witnessed it first hand. He also is aware that the governments of Earth has not publicized any information about what happened 15 years ago.

 

VIDEO:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. One of the first things you will notice is how detailed backgrounds are and also mechanical designs. As a sci-fi series, the futuristic settings are gorgeously painted, the mecha are well-designed and as for character designs, while line art is simple, but shaded, it’s the backgrounds and environments that helps boost the overall presentation of the anime series.

But overall anime production from A-1 Pictures is very good and I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts.

AUDIO:

“Aldnoah.Zero” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack.Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Ending “A/Z” and “aLIEz”
  • Trailers – Featuring the English version trailer of “Aldnoah.Zero”

EXTRAS:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 2” comes with a slipcase with an illustration by I-IV (Mecha Design), two collectible postcards, a 36-page booklet titled “ALDNOAH.ZERO x I-IV “MECHA ARCHIVES'” (featuring character information and sketches) and two collectible pin-up postcards.


aldnoah-2b

For sci-fi and mecha fans, every few years, there is an always an anime series that captivates you because of its deep storyline, high attention to mecha, its characters and typically revolving around some sort of war.

While the concept is quite banal in Japanese animation, what’s more important is how the story sticks out, while others await for an anime series that can deliver in serious plots and battles in comparison to anime classic “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Neon Genesis Evangelion”.

While “Aldnoah.Zero” has elements that people have seen before, in some ways, the anime series feels as if it was inspired by classic “Mobile Suit Gundam” and the sci-fi series “Stargate”.

While I don’t want to spoil the anime series for those interested in watching the first volume which includes the first six episodes, the story does show parallel lives of one living in Mars and despised by the Martian inhabitants because he is Terran (an Earth-born human), while we get to see another side of a Martian in Earth, with the perspective of the Princess.

For the first volume, the early episodes is more about introducing us to the war and the history between Earth and Mars, the Vers Empire and its main protagonists and antagonists, but trying to show how war was inevitable and how far others would go to see both planets break the peace treaty and fight.

With “Aldoa.Zero” vol. 2, the battles escalate as Slaine will do anything to find Asseylum and protect her but Saazbaum and his Landing Castle lands on UFE headquarters for a full scale attack in order to kill Asseylum.  Will Inaho or Slaine be able to protect her?

Also, we get to see the opposites, Inaho and Slaine in battle with one another and also are given a shocking season finale that no one would expect coming!

As for the Blu-ray release, A-1 Pictures has done a great job in providing a series with gorgeous art backgrounds and mechanical design. Picture quality is very good via HD and the lossless audio soundtrack is stereo but dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear, as with its captivating musical score. Both Japanese and English soundtracks sound great and voice talents on both ends are well-done! Also, included on the Blu-ray are several special features including a “making-of” with interviews with the Japanese staff of the series.

As for extras, you get an awesome “ALDNOAH.ZERO x I-IV “MECHA ARCHIVES” booklet plus two pin-up postcards.

Overall, the conclusion of the first season of “Aldnoah.Zero” is quite riveting and all-out exciting and the first season concludes with a very shocking finale! If you love deep, well-written and exciting mecha sci-fi, “Aldnoah.Zero” vol. 2 is recommended!

Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 1 Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

aldnoah-v1a

As the first six episodes are no doubt thrilling, smart and exciting, I look forward to see how the story for “Aldnoah.Zero” progresses overtime! So, if you love deep, well-written and exciting mecha sci-fi, then definitely give “Aldnoah.Zero” vol. 1 a try! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Olympia Knights/Aniplex, Project AZ.  All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 1 Limited Edition

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 1-6 (150 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: July 21, 2015


Original Created by Gen Urobuchi

Directed by Ei Aoki

Series Composition by Katsuhiko Takayama

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Character Design by Masaki Matsumoto

Art Director by Akira Ito

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures, TROYCA


Featuring the voices of:

Kensho Ono/Zach Aguilar as Slaine Troyard

Natsuki Hanae/Max Mittelman as Inaho Kaiduka

Sora Amamiya/Erika Harlacher as Asseylum Vers Allusia

Ai Kakuma/Christine Marie Cabanos as Nina Klein

Ai Kayano/Julie Anne Taylor as Darzana Magbaredge

Hiroki Yasumoto/Patrick Seitz as Vlad

Inori Minase/Sandy Fox as Eddelrittuo

Kazuya Nakai/Matthew Mercer as Koichiro Marito

Kengo Kawanishi/Kyle McCarley as Kisaki Matsuribi

Kousuke Toriumi/Ethan Murray as Soma Yagarai

Makoto Furukawa/Alan Lee as Shigou Kakei

Mikako Komatsu/Erica Mendez as Inko Amifumi

Sachika Misawa/Cristina Vee as Rayet Areash

Sayaka Ohara/Erica Lindbeck as Yuki Kaiduka

Shinji Ogawa/Geoffrey Chalmers as Rayregalia Vers Rayvers

Sho Hayami/Lex Lang as Cruhteo

Sōma Saitō/Lucien Dodge as Yuutarou Tsumugi

Taishi Murata/Bryce Papenbrook as Calm Craftman

Takahiro Sakurai /Todd Haberkorn as Trillam

Toru Ohkawa as Saazbaum

Yoshitaka Yamaya/Bobby Thong as Okisuke “Okojo” Mikuni

Yu Shimamura/Trina Loo as Kaoru Mizusaki

Yuki Kaida/Carrie Kernanen as Femieanne


Fifteen years have passed since the hypergate collapsed on the moon’s surface – a catastrophe known as the Heaven’s Fall. The war between Earth and the VERS Empire of Mars is now in a cease-fire.

The VERS’ Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia descends upon Earth as an ambassador hoping to encourage reconciliation while some citizens are not willing to compromise. Inaho Kaizuka, a Terran high school student… and Slaine Troyard, who swears his allegiance to Princess Assylum… Their fates cross as both societies watch in horror as a missile crashes on Asseylum’s motorcade. This incident marks the beginning of a new war.


From Gen Urobuchi, the creator of “Fate/Zero”, “Phantom – The Animation” and writer for “Psycho-Pass” and “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, comes the 2014 sci-fi anime series titled “ALDNOAH.ZERO”.

Featuring anime production from A-1 Pictures and TROYCA, the series is directed by Ei Aoki (“Fate/Zero”, “Ga-Rei Zero”, “Girls Bravo”), screenplay by Katsuhiko Takayama (“Cat Planet Cuties”, “Baka and Test – Summon the Beats”, “ef: a tale of melodies”, “Stratos 4”), music by Hiroyuki Sawano (“Blue Exorcist”, “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings”, “Attack on Titan”), character designs by Masako Matsumoto and art direction by Akira Ito (“AKB0048”, “Baccano!”, “Durara!!”, “Elfen Lied”).

The 24-episode anime series debuted back in July 2014 and ended in March 2015.  And now the anime series will be released on Blu-ray in July 2015 courtesy of Aniplex Inc.

“Aldnoah.Zero” Vol. 1 sets up the story of how Earth was attacked by the Vers Empire.

Back in 1972, an ancient alien hypergate was discovered on the moon and humans have used this technology to migrate to Mars and begin colonizing the planet.  The settlers on Mars discovered new advanced technology and would create the Vers Empire and later claim the planet Mars and the advanced technology as their own.  The Vers Empire look at them as elite and evolved versions of humanity and are prejudice against the Terrans (Earth-born humans).

The Vers Empire would declare war on Earth and in 1999, the hypergate on the Moon was destroyed but in the process, shattering the Moon leaving debris floating around the planet Earth.

This would lead to a cease fire for nearly 15 years until the Vers Empire would once again launch a new attack in order to conquer Earth.

We are introduced to Inaho Kaizuki, a pilot in training, who lives in the city of Shinawara with his sister Yuki, a Kataphrakt pilot for the Earth’s military.

One day when Inaho and friends go to see the arrival of Asseylum Vers, the Princess of Vers, terrorists attack and it is assumed that the Princess was killed.  In retaliation, the Martian Vers Orbital Knights do a full assault on Earth and destroying a number of major cities.

While holed up in school, Inaho and his friends decide to fight against the Vers.


“Aldnoah.Zero” consists of the following main characters:

  • Inaho Kaizuka – A pilot in training living on Earth and the top of his class.  He lives with his older sister, Yuki and is often stoic and showing no emotion.  He is good with coming up with strategies to fight against the Martian Knights.
  • Slaine Troyard – A Terran (Earth-born human) who is a slave to the Versian County Cruhteno and the nemesis of Inaho.  He is close to Princess Asseylum and is responsible for saving her.  He is very loyal to the Princess.
  • Asseylum Vers Allusia – The First Princess of the Vers Empire and is close to Slaine.  She is curious about Earth and unlike the Vers Empires, she has no ill feelings towards the Terrans.
  • Inko Amifumi – Inaho’s childhood friend and classmate.  She is a member of the Student Council Committee and has feelings towards Inaho.
  • Rayet Areash – A Martian girl living on Earth.  She and her friends are responsible for the assassination attempt on Princess Asseylum, in exchange for the promise of extraction back to Mars and knighthood under the Vers Empire.
  • Eddelrittuo – A young Martian girl who serves Princess Asseylum as her maid.
  • Cruhteo – A Count of the Vers Empire and one of the Martian Knights who often abuses Slaine.
  • Saazbaum – A County ofthe Vers Empire, one of the Martian Knights and one desperately wanting a war between Mars and Earth.
  • Yuki Kaizuka – Older sister of Inaho and a Warrant Officer in the United Forces of Earth.  She can pilot a Kataphract and often worries about her younger brother.
  • Koichiro Marito – A Lieutenant in the United Forces of Earth.  He is a training instructor at Inaho’s high school.  A veteran of the War of 1999 and suffers PTSD due to the war, he is fearful of the power of Aldnoah, having witnessed it first hand.  He also is aware that the governments of Earth has not publicized any information about what happened 15 years ago.

 

VIDEO:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 1” is presented in 1080p High Definition. One of the first things you will notice is how detailed backgrounds are and also mechanical designs.  As a sci-fi series, the futuristic settings are gorgeously painted, the mecha are welldesigned and as for character designs, while line art is simple, but shaded, it’s the backgrounds and environments that helps boost the overall presentation of the anime series.

But overall anime production from A-1 Pictures is very good and I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts.

AUDIO:

“Aldnoah.Zero” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack.Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening for “Heavenly blue”
  • Trailers – Featuring two trailers for “Aldnoah.Zero”
  • Commercials – Featuring six commercials for “Aldnoah.Zero”
  • Count to A/Z – (23:43) A featurette about the making of “Aldnoah.Zero” and featuring interviews with the staff.

EXTRAS:

“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 1” comes with a slipcase, a 36-page booklet titled “ALDNOAH.ZERO x TAKAKO SHIMURA ‘CHARACTER ARCHIVES'” (featuring character information and sketches) and two collectible pin-up postcards.


aldnoah-v1b

For sci-fi and mecha fans, every few years, there is an always an anime series that captivates you because of its deep storyline, high attention to mecha, its characters and typically revolving around some sort of war.

While the concept is quite banal in Japanese animation, what’s more important is how the story sticks out, while others await for an anime series that can deliver in serious plots and battles in comparison to anime classic “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Neon Genesis Evangelion”.

While “Aldnoah.Zero” has elements that people have seen before, in some ways, the anime series feels as if it was inspired by classic “Mobile Suit Gundam” and the sci-fi series “Stargate”.

While I don’t want to spoil the anime series for those interested in watching the first volume which includes the first six episodes, the story does show parallel lives of one living in Mars and despised by the Martian inhabitants because he is Terran (an Earth-born human), while we get to see another side of a Martian in Earth, with the perspective of the Princess.

Of course, the early episodes is more about introducing us to the war and the history between Earth and Mars, the Vers Empire and its main protagonists and antagonists, but trying to show how war was inevitable and how far others would go to see both planets break the peace treaty and fight.

As for the Blu-ray release, A-1 Pictures has done a great job in providing a series with gorgeous art backgrounds and mechanical design.  Picture quality is very good via HD and the lossless audio soundtrack is stereo but dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear, as with its captivating musical score.  Both Japanese and English soundtracks sound great and voice talents on both ends are well-done!    Also, included on the Blu-ray are several special features including a “making-of” with interviews with the Japanese staff of the series.

As for extras, you get an awesome “ALDNOAH ZERO x TAKAKO SHIMURA “CHARACTER ARCHIVES” booklet plus two pin-up postcards.

Overall, as the first six episodes are no doubt thrilling, smart and exciting, I look forward to see how the story for “Aldnoah.Zero” progresses overtime!  So, if you love deep, well-written and exciting mecha sci-fi, then definitely give “Aldnoah.Zero” vol. 1 a try!  Recommended!

Expelled from Paradise: Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

expelled-a

Visually gorgeous! “Expelled from Paradise” is an exciting sci-fi action film from director Seiji Mizushima (“Fullmetal Alchemist) and screenwriter Gen Urobuchi (“Fate/Zero”, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”).  If you love anime and sci-fi, this is a film that is definitely worth watching!

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


TITLE: Expelled from Paradise: Limited Edition

DURATION: 104 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese 5.1, Japanese 2.0, English 5.1, Subtitles: English & Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex, Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and up

Release Date: June 5, 2015


Director: Seiji Mizushima

Screenplay by Gen Urobuchi

Music by NARASAKI

Character Design: Masatsugu Saitou

Art Director: Masanobu Nomura

Animation Director: Haruna Gotsu

Director of Photography: Koujirou Hayashi

Anime Production: Graphinica


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Frontier Setter

Rie Kugimiya/Wendee Lee as Angela Balzac

Shinichiro Miki/Steven Blum as Zarik “Dingo” Kajiwara

Chika Anzai as Arhan

Daichi Endō as Laszlo


With Earth now left in ruins following the “Nano Hazard,” most of humanity has abandoned the planet they once called home along with their physical bodies and rebuilt their digitalized minds into a society within the cyber universe of “DEVA.”

A.D. 2400, DEVA’s central council detects an incident of unauthorized access into their mainframe. Someone on Earth was trying to hack into the system. The only information DEVA was able to retrieve was that the hacker referred to himself as “Frontier Setter.”

To investigate the mysterious hacker’s motives, the high officials of DEVA dispatch System Security Third Officer Angela Balzak to the Earth’s surface. Equipped with a prosthetic “material body,” Angela attempts to make contact with a local agent Dingo, but what awaited her instead was a swarm of Sandworms now infesting the Earth’s surface. Angela intercepts the gruesome pests with her exoskeletal powered suit Arhan.

Will Angela and Dingo be able to find Frontier Setter on this devastated planet? Their journey to explore the secrets of the world begins now…!


From Seiji Mizushima (director of “Mobile Suit Gundam 00”, “Fulllmetal Alchemist”, “Slayers Next”) and Gen Urobuchi (creator of “Fate/Zero” and screenwriter for”Psycho-Pass” and “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”) comes the animated film “Rakuen Tsuiho” (Expelled from Paradise).

Which was released in America courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. in June 2015.

“Expelled from Paradise” takes place during a time when the Earth was left in ruins after the “Nano Hazard” and humanity has abandoned their planet and physical bodies and rebuilt themselves digitally into a cyber universe known as “DEVA”.

When the DEVA’s central council detects an unauthorized access of its central mainframe by a hacker on Earth known as “Frontier Setter”, they send out DEVA dispatch System Security Third Officer Angela Balzak to investigate the hacker on Earth’s surface.

Transferring her mind into a prosthetic “material body”, she is to join local agent “Dingo” to find “Frontier Setter”.

While both have different mindsets on how to pursue the investigation, Dingo tries to show Angela that how things are on Earth, is very different by the way things are on DEVA.  And both must try to work together and find the hacker known as “Frontier Setter”.


VIDEO:

“Expelled from Paradise: Limited Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition and as one can expect from an animated film, the animation is absolutely gorgeous.  Character designs are well-shaded and in HD, you can see actual dirt marks or scuffs on metallic surfaces.  The Blu-ray definitely showcases the details of the characters and also the art backgrounds are absolutely gorgeous!

I didn’t see any banding or artifact issues during my viewing of this animated film.  “Expelled from Paradise” looks fantastic on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Expelled from Paradise: Limited Edition” is presented in lossless audio Japanese 5.1, 2.0 and with an English 5.1 dub.  The lossless soundtrack for this animated film is immersive as the many action sequences literally envelops the soundscape from the surround channels, rear surround channels and also utilizes LFE.  It’s been awhile since I watched an anime film on Blu-ray with fantastic lossless audio and it’s great to finally watch and hear it!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Expelled from Paradise: Limited Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Expelled from Paradise – (29:57) featuring interviews with director Seiji Mizushima and the crew responsible for creating “Expelled from Paradise”.
  • Trailers – Featuring Japanese theatrical trailers for “Expelled from Paradise”.

EXTRAS:

“Expelled from Paradise: Limited Edition” comes with a slipcase, a 32-page booklet with character designs plus an interview with writer Gen Urobuchi plus a collectable card.


expelled-b

For anime fans looking for a sci-fi animated film with action will surely enjoy director Seiji Mizushima and screenwriter Gen Urobuchi’s “Expelled from Paradise”.

The first thing that captivates you once the animated film starts is how colorful and clean the animated film is.  After watching so many anime TV shows and OVA’s, it’s always great to step back and watch an animated film (which is typically bigger budget and features much better visual effects).

And while you are greeted with fantastic animation (and gorgeous backgrounds) especially during the film’s action sequences, 3D CGI animation has come such a long way especially how it is applied to animated films.

A lot was put into the mechanical design with the various space vehicles, suits and technology featured in the film.  There is no denying of how fantastic the film looks but with that being said, while we live in a time where so much is put into the visual look and style of the film, you tend to hope the film will also deliver in the story department and for the most part, Gen Urobuchi’s screenplay is entertaining.

There is no doubt that the creators wanted to attract the otaku fans who are into the mechanical aspects of the film, but with the lead female character in a tiny outfit, there is no doubt that they wanted to attract otaku’s with fan service as well.

While the story starts out with action and humor, the story is an interesting look at artificial intelligence and technology but how an AI has developed consciousness.

Of course, there is more to the story, which I don’t want to spoil, but while not too intellectual for those wanting a simpler storyline, for the most part, sci-fi anime fans can appreciate this storyline about the evolution of humanity and its dependence on technology, its focus on one’s digital life and caring less for other important things that humanity once considered as priority.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality of “Expelled from Paradise” is fantastic.  On my 4K Ultra HD TV, the colors really pop and look amazing.  The lossless audio is also immersive and you hear panning objects, explosions and weaponry all around you and there is also really good LFE as well.  As for special features, you are treated with a half-hour making of and for extras, you get the Aniplex swag with a booklet and collectable card.

Visually gorgeous! “Expelled from Paradise” is an exciting sci-fi action film from director Seiji Mizushima (“Fullmetal Alchemist) and screenwriter Gen Urobuchi (“Fate/Zero”, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”).  If you love anime and sci-fi, this is a film that is definitely worth watching!

PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection – Premium Edition (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

psycho-pass-s1

“PSYCHO-PASS” is a sci-fi crime thriller with cool characters, a captivating and also excitingly dark storyline and awesome animation from Production I.G.   And for fans of the series, if you love “PSYCHO-PASS”, then you will definitely want to check out the “PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection – Premium Edition”!  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © PSYCHO-PASS Committee. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection

YEAR OF RELEASE: 2012-2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-22 (550 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition, English 5.1 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV M

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2014

Chief Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro

Directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani

Series Composition by Gen Urobuchi

Music by Yuugo Kanno

Character Design by Kyoji Asano

Art Director: Koji Eto

Mechanical Design: Shinobu Tsuneki

Anime Production: Production I.G.

Featuring the voices of:

Kana Hanazawa/Kate Oxley as Akane Tsunemori

Tomokazu Seki/Robert McCollum as Shinya Kōgami

Akira Ishida/Scott Freeman as Shuusei Kagari

Kenji Nojima/Josh Grelle as Nobuchika Ginoza

Kinryuu Arimoto/Jason Douglas as Tomomi Masaoka

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Shion Karanomori

Noriko Hidaka/Stephanie Young as Dominator

Shizuka Itou/Lindsay Seidel as Yayoi Kunizuka

Takahiro Sakurai/Alex Organ as Shōgo Makishima

Yoshiko Sakakibara/Linda Leonard as Jōshū Kasei

Welcome to a world where just thinking about a crime is enough to enough to make you guilty. Bad intentions can no longer be hidden, and the police know exactly which tainted minds are about to cross over to the wrong side of the law. The great equalizer in the war on thugs is the Dominator, a futuristic weapon that can read minds and assess the risk that a citizen will turn criminal.

Cops work in teams made up of Enforcers and Inspectors. Enforcers take out the bad guys, Inspectors stop their partners from going rogue, and the all-powerful Sibyl System keeps a watchful eye on us all. Society is paralyzed by its deepest, darkest desires, and trial by jury has been replaced by the wrath of the Dominator. Welcome to the future. How guilty are you?

psycho-pass-s1-b

In Japan,  Katsuyuki Motohiro is a respected TV and filmmmaaker.

From directing the popular “Odoru Daisousassen” drama and film series (known as “Bayside Shakedown” in Asia and the U.S.), “Udon”, “Shaolin Girl” and “Space Travelers”, Katsuyuki Motohiro was given a chance to work on an anime series.  And in this case, becoming the executive producer for Production I.G.’s series “PSYCHO-PASS”.

Working with director Naoyoshi Shiotani (“Blood-C”, “Blood-C: The Last Dark”, “Tokyo Marble Chocolate”), writer Gen Urobuchi (creator of the “Fate/Zero” series and writer of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”) and producer Joji Wada (“Guilty Crown”, “Kimi ni Todoke”, “Robotics;Notes”, “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings”), “PSYCHO-PASS” became a popular anime series and now a sequel and a film was announced in Japan.

Here in the United States, “PSYCHO-PASS” was released by FUNimation as a Blu-ray+DVD combo with a two-set release and also a complete collection premium edition bundled with a soundtrack, decal, ID holder, keychain and slipcase.

“PSYCHO-PASS” aired on Fuji TV’s Noitamina from Oct. 2012 through March 2013 and help spawn a manga series and also several novels.

“PSYCHO-PASS” is set in the year 2113, during a time when the Sibyl System can measure a person’s mental state, personality and probability of a person committing a crime by utilizing a cymatic scan of the brain known as “Psycho-Pass”.

If the Crime Coefficient of an individual is too high, they are pursued by the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division and are apprehended or taken down with lethal force.

The female protagonist of the series is Akane Tsunemori, a new rookie inspector for the PSBCI and each inspector are partnered with a special team of latent criminals known as Enforcers.

One of the Enforcers that she is partnered with is Shinya Kogami, the male protagonist of the series who is a former inspector who took on the Specimen Case which somehow increased his Crime Coefficient to an abnormal level.  With the death of an Enforcer working under him during a case, the Sibyl System has demoted him and thus his limited freedom has made him an Enforcer for Akane.

But for the PSBCI, an inspector and enforcer must use a special weapon known as “Dominators”.  Weapons that can only fire at criminals with a higher-than-acceptable Crime Coefficient.

The first half of the series features Akane going on cases with the Enforcers.  Unlike other inspectors, despite passing exams with high scores, she is unwilling to see people who have been deemed as criminals to be killed. And that is what attracts Kogami in working for Akane, because of her calm-demeanor and her way of handling situations prevents him from killing anyone.

Currently, the PBSCI are trying to capture their #1 target, Shingo Makishima.  A man responsible for Kogami’s demotion, the death of his Enforcer.  But unlike other criminals and despite of his crimes, his Crime Coefficient levels never reach dangerous levels and so, inspectors and enforces can not fire at him because has has managed to beat the Psycho-Pass system.

Will Akane and Kogami be able to capture the ruthless Shingo Makishima?

“PSYCHO-PASS” features the following characters:

Akane Tsunemoto – A rookie inspector for the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division.  Top at her class in employment exams, she joined the police because of her high scores and believes she can make a difference.  But unlike other inspectors who will not hesitate to kill, she would rather give people a chance and let justice handle them than having them killed.  But what happens when she crosses paths with the sadistic Shingo Makishima?

Shinya Kogami – A former inspector of Unit One turned enforcer.  During a case, his Crime Coefficient skyrocketed to abnormal levels and due to the death of an enforcer, he was demoted to an Enforcer by the Sibyl System because of his violent actions.  But working with Akane, has made him calm.  He has trained himself, so his superiors will never have to worry about killing criminals.

Nobuchika Ginoza – A veteran inspector working with Akane and responsible for coordinating the Enforcers of Unit One.   He has a hatred for those with higher Crime Coefficients.

Tomomi Masaoka – The eldest Enforcer of Unit One.  He is responsible for guiding Akane and teaching her how the system works.  He is a former detective who’s dislike for the Sibyl System has made him an enforcer due to a Psycho-Pass done on him.

Shusei Kagari – An Enforcer of Unit One. And often seen joking or flirting with Akane.

Yayoi Kunizuka – The only female Enforcer of Unit One.  Very calm and cool!

Shion Karanomori – An enforcer and an analyst for the Public Safety Bureau’s General Analysis Division.  Her responsibility is to analyze data and evidence.

Joshu Kasei – The Chief of the Bureau.

Shogo Makishima – The primary antagonist who has managed to elude the Public Safety Bureau and has managed to bypass the Psycho-Pass and keep his Crime Coefficient down despite his murderous crimes.

VIDEO:

I think it’s a given when you see Production I.G. attached to an anime series, you expect quality!  Not only in character designs but also background art.  And once again, Production I.G. has delivered with “PSYCHO-PASS”.

The anime series is presented in 1080p High Definition but for it’s overall animation direction, there is a hint of softness which I believe to be more intentional but it’s definitely one of the more stylish anime series that I have seen released in the United States for 2014.

The character designs for the series is fantastic!  I love the character designs, the outfits and the actual shading that goes for each character.  And while this quality is a norm for Production I.G., compared to a lot of anime series, not many studios put so much into character designs and anime backgrounds and giving the overall series a high-production feel.

While the series leans more towards the darker/softer side instead of vibrant and colorful, “PSYCHO-PASS” still looks wonderful on Blu-ray!  I didn’t notice any major banding or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO:

“PSYCHO-PASS” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  And as expected, the English dub track has a better dynamic range and is much more surround driven because of its 5.1 soundtrack.  But overall, both soundtracks are well-acted, especially the Japanese soundtrack for the more emotional scenes.  Dialogue is crystal clear, as with the music on both lossless tracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • EPISODE 5 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Scott Freeman (voice of Shusei Kagari), Lydia Mackay (voice of Shion Karanomori) and Lindsay Seidel (voice of Yayoi Kunizuka).
  • EPISODE 11 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Kate Oxley (voice of Akane Tsunemori), Rob McCollum (voice of Shinya Kogami) and Alex Organ (voice of Shogo Makishima).
  • EPISODE 13 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (ADR Director), Jason Douglas (voice of Tomomi Masaoka) and Josh Grelle (voice of Nobucika Ginoza).
  • EPISODE 18 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (ADR Director), Stephanie Young (voice of Dominator) and Linda Leonard (voice of Joshu Kasei).
  • Psycho-Pass at Sakura-Con Part 1 – (21:20) Featuring interviews with Executive Director Katsuyuki Motohiro, Director Naoyoshi Shiotani and Producer Joji Wada.
  • Psycho-Pass at Sakura-Con Part 2 – (20:17) Featuring interviews with Executive Director Katsuyuki Motohiro, Director Naoyoshi Shiotani and Producer Joji Wada plus coverage of the PSYCHO-PASS cosplayers at “Sakura-Con”.
  • Textless Opening Song and Closing Songs
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “PSYCHO-PASS”.

Read our J!-ENT 20th Anniversary 575-page special issue with our article with the creators of “PSYCHO-PASS”!

Prior to watching “PSYCHO-PASS”, the mere mention of Katsuyuki Motohiro’s name was enough for me to want to watch this anime series!

Having seen the impact and being entertained by his live action drama and movie series “Odoru Daisousassen”, it was an instant given for me that I have to watch this series because of his focus on characters but also the conflicts that police officers often are under, especially against a major criminal.

And in the case of “PSYCHO-PASS”, the collaboration between Katsuyuki Motohiro and Production I.G. was a win-win!

Having watched the series from beginning to end, what makes “PSYCHO-PASS” so captivating is its characters and storyline.  We get to see the characters of Akane Tsunemori and Shinya Kogami grow throughout the series and because of its number of characters, there are episodes that are strong in character development and showing the viewer how various people became enforcers, also seeing Akane being tested for her demeanor and being analyzed via Psycho-Pass especially when Akane comes across the antagonist Shogo Makishima.

By episode 15, things go into full-swing as the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division pursues Shogo Makishima and more revelations of the Sybil System are revealed.

Without spoiling the series, I will say that I look forward to season two as there are many twists and turns throughout this series but fans who love sci-fi (especially in a “Blade Runner” type of way), will no doubt enjoy “PSYCHO-PASS” for its strong storyline.  It’s important to note that this series is not for the timid as there is a lot of violence and it was one of the major criticisms in Japan was because of its graphic violence.  But to show how sadistic the antagonist, Shogo Makishima is… and so, the series definitely hooks people as a crime thriller as well. But definitely, not an anime series for the kids or those who do not like to see violence.

It’s important to note that FUNimation has released two parts of “PSYCHO-PASS” season 1 for those who are not interested in the premium edition.

While I am reviewing primarily the discs, the premium edition does come with awesome swag which include the soundtrack CD’s, a Criminal Investigation Division Logo Decal, a Criminal Investigation Division ID holder and a Criminal Investigation Division Business Card Case and Keychain, all housed in an exclusive chipboard artbox.

Overall, “PSYCHO-PASS” is a sci-fi crime thriller with cool characters, a captivating and also excitingly dark storyline and awesome animation from Production I.G.

And for fans of the series, if you love “PSYCHO-PASS”, then you will definitely want to check out the “PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection – Premium Edition”!  Highly recommended!

Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set II (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

fatezero-2

Much darker, more violent and an all-out action-packed anime series!  “Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set II” is a must-see for those who enjoyed “Fate/stay night” and are fans of the “Fate” anime/video gameseries! Better animation, better and much darker storyline. Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © Nitroplus/TYPE-MOON, ufotable, FZPC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set II

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: Episodes 14-26 (330 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/16×9, English Dolby Digital 2.0 and Japanese Linear PMC Stereo 2.0, Subtitles: English, Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex, Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: December 26, 2013

Directed by Ei Aoki

Screenplay by Akihiro Yoshida, Akira Hiyama, Kazuharu Sato, Takumi Miyajima

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Original Creator: Gen Urobuchi

Original Character Design by Takashi Takeuchi

Character Design by Atsushi Ikariya, Tomonori Sudou

Art Director: Koji Eto

Anime Production by ufotable

Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayako Kawasumi/Kari Wahlgren as Saber

Rikiya Koyama/Matthew Mercer as Kiritsugu Emiya

Akina Abe/Karen Strassman as Assassin

Akio Ohtsuka/Jamieson Price as Rider

Akira Ishida/Johnny Yong Bosch as Ryūnosuke Uryū

Ayumi Tsunematsu/Carrie Keranen as Maiya Hisau

Daisuke Namikawa/Lucien Dodge as Waver Velvet

Hikaru Midorikawa/Grant George as Lancer

Jouji Nakata/Crispin Freeman as Kirei Kotomine

Megumi Toyoguchi/Karen Strassman as Sola-Ui

Ryotaro Okiayu/Kyle Hebert as Berserker

Sachie Abe/Patrick Seitz as Assassin

Satoshi Tsuruoka/Dan Woren as Caster

Sayaka Ohara/Bridget Hoffman as Irisviel von Einzbern

Sho Hayami/Marc Diraison as Tokiomi Tohsaka

Takumi Yamazaki as Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald

Tarusuke Shingaki/Liam O’Brien as Kariya Matō

Tomokazu Seki/David Earnest as Archer

The story starts from zero: the beginning…

The Holy Grail War – in this ultimate battle field, in order to obtain the power of the “Holy Grail” that grants any unattainable wish, seven “masters” summon “servants” and fight against each other until the last one survives.

As the 4th Holy Grail War becomes more furious, one by one the masters and their servants are being eliminated from the war by losing in a battle or falling into an opponents’ plot. What will Saber and Kiritsugu find out at the end of the war? And which team will win the war and the Holy Grail?

fatezero-2b

The war continues but mages must join forces temporarily as they must join forces in order to defeat a greater evil.

Meanwhile the history of Kiritsugu is revealed and who will be come the victor in winning the Grail?

Find out in episodes 13-25 in the Blu-ray box set release of “Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set II”!

What is “Fate/Zero”?

When it comes to video games and its its characters, I don’t think I’ve seen a title derived from a video game, within the last decade, achieve so much attention than the “Fate” series from TYPE-MOON.

This series has captivated people from all over the world and merchandise from video games, nendoroids, PVC figures, you name it, there are many “Fate” fans all over the world.

And of course, the “Fate” series has led to manga, anime series and animated films.

“Fate/stay night” was the first game that was released in 2004 and would lead to a 20-volume manga series from 2006-2012 and an anime TV series created in 2006 and would be condensed to an animated film titled “Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works” in 2010.

Meanwhile, back in 2006, Gen Urobuchi (best known for his work on “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Psycho-Pass”, “Blassreiter”, “Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom”) would create a light novel series “Fate/Zero” and feature illustrations by Takashi Takeuchi and the four-volume light novel series would last through 2007. The series would serve as a prequel to “Fate/stay night” and was a collaboration between Type-Moon and Nitroplus.

The light novel series would feature a manga adaptation and an anime adaptation which would last two seasons from 2011-2012.

The series was directed by Ei Aoki (“Ga-Rei-Zero”, “Hourou Musuko”, “Coyote Ragtime Show”), screenplay shared by Akihiro Yoshida, Akira Hiyama, Kazuharu Sato and Takumi Miyajima, music composition by Yuki Kajiura (“Sword Art Online”, “.hack/” series, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”), character designs by Atsushi Ikariya (“Harmonie”, “The Devil is a PArt-Timer!”) and Tomonori Sudou (“Coyote Ragtime Show”, “Garden of Sinners”) and art direction by Koji Eto (“AKB0048”, “Steins;Gate”, “IDOLM@STER: XENOGLOSSIA”).

And now the second Blu-ray box set is available in the U.S. courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

“Fate/Zero” takes place ten years before the events of “Fate/stay night”.

With the War of the Holy Grail being inconclusive, the Fourth Holy Grail War begins once again in which seven mages summon seven Heroic Spirits to compete in a battle of last person standing in order to gain the power of the “Holy Grail”. For the pair that wins, a miracle will be granted.

Chosen to take part in the war are:

  • Kiritsugu Emiya/Saber and Irisviel von Einzbern – Kiritsugu is the main protagonist of this series who wants to end all conflict. Known as the “Magus Killer” who is a master of firearms, he represents the Einzbern family in the Fourth Holy Grail War. He is also married to Irisviel von Einzbern, a homunculus prototype created by the Einzbern family who are trying to create an ultimate homunculus. When six or more servants are killed, she will manifest the Grail and lose her humanity which saddens Kiritsugu. While Kiritsugu is the master of Saber, the King of England, he has no interested in the Holy Grail, while Saber wants to be granted the miracle of preventing the destruction of her homeland while she was a leader many years ago.
  • Kirei Kotomine/Assassin – Kirei is a priest who doesn’t seem happy when he does good deeds and commits many sins. He works for Tokiomi and is the master of Assassin. When he has great hatred towards Kiritsugu and despite being a priest, like Kiritsugu, he is a master of weapons. He has no true goal if he wins the Holy Grail aside from trying to find the meaning of life. But his methods make him an antagonist of the series. As for Assassin, trained at stealth and assassination and there may be more than one of them.
  • Waver Velvet/Rider – Waver wants to be a great mage by working hard, rather than one who is a mage by bloodline. Waver steals an artifact meant for his teacher Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi and summons Rider, also known as Alexander the Great, The King of Conquerors, a huge, muscular man who has pride in battle.
  • Ryunosuke Uryu/Caster – Ryunosuke is a teenage serial killer who entices young children to his hideout place and kills them. He also kills families of the children and summons Caster (Bluebeard), who also enjoys torturing children and is just as sadistic.
  • Tokiomi/Archer – The father of Rin Tosaka and Sakura Mato and the Master of Archer. He is an arrogant mage and chooses Kirei Kotomine to be his understudy. Archer is Gilgameshu, the first hero to set foot on Earth and has a dislike towards Saber and Rider who are also kings.
  • Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald/Lancer and Sola-Ui Nuaba-Re Sophia-Ri – Kayneth is a nobleman of the Magus Association, Lord of the house of El-Melloi and a prodigy of magecraft. He is engaged to Sola-Ui as part of a strategic arrangement but she is coldhearted and is infatuated with Lancer. Lancer is a Knight who is loyal to his master and has an agreement with Saber that the two would save each others in final battle. And so they often help each other out to make sure no one spoils their agreement. His birthmark is magical and attracts women.
  • Kariya Mato/Berserker – A member of the Mato family and looks at Sakura Mato as a daughter but is upset that Tokiomi allowed his child to be adopted by Zoken. Despite having left the Mato Family out of disgust, he returns to make a deal with his father Zoken that if he wins the Grail War, Sakura will be free. The more magic Kariya uses, the more his life will be eaten and the nerves in his body will die. He is the master of Berserker, a servant who has the ability to use any object as a Noble Phantasm. But because Berserker requires so much magic which Kariya is unable to match, it has caused Berseker to be in constant pain.

VIDEO:

“Fate/Zero” is presented in 1080p High Definition and because the series was created in HD, it looks much better than its older counterpart “Fate/stay night”. Colors are vibrant, line detail is strong, I didn’t see any major banding or artifact issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/Zero” is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0. I felt that the Japanese version had a bit of clarity with its lossless LPCM track with a slightly better dynamic range. Both featuring good voice acting on both soundtracks, but for the most part, people have a chance to choose which soundtrack they want to listen to, which is a plus. But dialogue and music sound crystal clear from the front channels.

It’s important to note that Aniplex Inc.’s “Fate/Zero” does not use the same English voice actors that were featured on Sentai Filmworks “Fate/stay night”. While the Japanese voice talent featured on “Fate/stay night” are the same on “Fate/Zero”.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fate/Zero” comes with the following special features:

DISC 2

  • Collection of CM, PV’s and trailers for “Fate/Zero”.

DISC 4

  • “Fate/Zero” English Staff Interviews – (58:39) English staff interviews for Team Saber, Team Lancer, Team Archer, Team Rider, Team Berserker, Team Caster, Team Assassin and with Tony Oliver/Director
  • Extra Bonus – Deleted Scenes from the English staff Interviews – (3:00) Discussion about the fun that the English dub staff had during recording.

EXTRAS:

“Fate/Zero” comes with the following extras:

  • Fate/Zero Original Soundtrack II – Featuring music by Kajiura Yuki (duration: 71 minutes)
  1. fate to zero    3:03
  2. for him    0:40
  3. army of the king    2:13
  4. curse    2:25
  5. dogfight    3:14
  6. the sword of promised victory ~Fate/Zero ver.    2:06
  7. Babylonia    1:55
  8. on the battlefield    2:21
  9. betrayer    1:42
  10. you are my king    2:38
  11. at peace    1:35
  12. little star    2:42
  13. in a nightmare    1:53
  14. a man in black    2:44
  15. painful #2    1:35
  16. dogfight #2    1:36
  17. the battle to come    2:51
  18. on an island    2:22
  19. burning village    1:53
  20. I will    1:33
  21. in a foreign town    1:23
  22. she’s just in time    0:49
  23. days gone by    4:21
  24. mission    2:46
  25. mission #2    2:57
  26. the dream fades before dawn    1:28
  27. the dream fades before dawn #2    0:48
  28. tender moment    1:18
  29. this day, and never again    3:33
  30. the dream fades before dawn #3    3:34
  31. the world is tumbling down    2:47
  32. silver moon    2:15
  • 16-Page “Fate/Zero” art booklet
  • Bushiroad WeiB Schwarz English Edition card – Featuring “Noble Phantasm Unleashed, Saber”
  • Rigid Slipcase box with illustration by Takashi Takeuchi

 

As a fan of the “Fate” video game series and also “Fate/stay night”, I have been captivated by the storyline of the mages who battle each other in order to capture the grail to make them or their master’s wish come true.

But as “Fate/stay night” was intriguing because it focused on one young master’s willingness to not fight but wants to end the game, “Fate/Zero” is the prequel to “Fate/stay night” about how life was for the mages prior.

And what the creators of the prequel managed to do much better than “Fate/stay night” was to create a more darker, violent atmosphere that tends to work well with the storyline.  The series is less about humor and focused on the backgrounds of the mages.  We get to see the relationships of the mages and also the backgrounds of a few masters of “Fate/stay night” and both series tie well with one another.

With the release of “Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set II”, the storyline focuses on the battle against the sadistic mage, Caster but also concludes the storyline of who will get the grail and whether or not a wish is made.  But also the character Kiritsugu, his history and how this character ties into “Fate/stay night”.

Suffice to say, it’s another violent conclusion as mages take each other down and as expected from the fourth war, there must be a victor.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is much better than “Fate/stay night” as it was made in HD and features vibrant visuals. As much as I would have loved a 5.1 lossless track, you do get both stereo Japanese and English soundtracks. Hardcore English dub fans may be upset that the voice talent on “Fate/Zero” is different from the voice talent on “Fate/stay night”, while the Japanese voice talent are the same on both series.

And like all amazing limited edition box sets released from Aniplex Inc., there is a great amount of swag included such as the “Fate/Zero Original Soundtrack II”, bonus interview DVD, a booklet, a Bushiroad card and more!

Overall, “Fate/Zero” has turned out to be a fantastic anime series which I enjoyed much more over “Fate/stay night”. The storyline draws you in because of the better storytelling but also has a bit of creepiness due to how much darker this series is in terms of violence is featured. And once again, Aniplex Inc. has delivered when it comes to releasing a fantastic limited edition Blu-ray release with a good amount of swag!

“Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set II” is a must-see for those who enjoyed “Fate/stay night” and are fans of the “Fate” anime/video gameseries! Better animation, better and much darker storyline. Highly recommended!

Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set I (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fate/Zero” has turned out to be a fantastic anime series which I enjoyed much more over “Fate/stay night”.  The storyline draws you in because of the better storytelling but also has a bit of creepiness due to how much darker this series is in terms of violence is featured.  And once again, Aniplex Inc. has delivered when it comes to releasing a fantastic limited edition Blu-ray release with a good amount of swag!  “Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set I” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © Nitroplus/TYPE-MOON, ufotable, FZPC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set I

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (330 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/16×9, English Dolby Digital 2.0 and Japanese Linear PMC Stereo 2.0, Subtitles: English, Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex, Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 5, 2013

Directed by Ei Aoki

Screenplay by Akihiro Yoshida, Akira Hiyama, Kazuharu Sato, Takumi Miyajima

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Original Creator: Gen Urobuchi

Original Character Design by Takashi Takeuchi

Character Design by Atsushi Ikariya, Tomonori Sudou

Art Director: Koji Eto

Anime Production by ufotable

Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayako Kawasumi/Kari Wahlgren as Saber

Rikiya Koyama/Matthew Mercer as Kiritsugu Emiya

Akina Abe/Karen Strassman as Assassin

Akio Ohtsuka/Jamieson Price as Rider

Akira Ishida/Johnny Yong Bosch as Ryūnosuke Uryū

Ayumi Tsunematsu/Carrie Keranen as Maiya Hisau

Daisuke Namikawa/Lucien Dodge as Waver Velvet

Hikaru Midorikawa/Grant George as Lancer

Jouji Nakata/Crispin Freeman as Kirei Kotomine

Megumi Toyoguchi/Karen Strassman as Sola-Ui

Ryotaro Okiayu/Kyle Hebert as Berserker

Sachie Abe/Patrick Seitz as Assassin

Satoshi Tsuruoka/Dan Woren as Caster

Sayaka Ohara/Bridget Hoffman as Irisviel von Einzbern

Sho Hayami/Marc Diraison as Tokiomi Tohsaka

Takumi Yamazaki as Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald

Tarusuke Shingaki/Liam O’Brien as Kariya Matō

Tomokazu Seki/David Earnest as Archer

The story starts from zero: the beginning…

The Holy Grail War – in this ultimate battle field, in order to obtain the power of the “Holy Grail” that grants any unattainable wish, seven “masters” summon “servants” and fight against each other until the last one survives.

After three inconclusive Holy Grail Wars, the fourth battle has finally started. Hoping to win the battle, each master is heading to the new battlefield, Fuyuki. However, there is a man who is confused and struggling, unable to find meaning in the war. His name is Kirei Kotomine. He wonders why he has been appointed to this task, but without any answers, he encounters his archrival – Kiritsugu Emiya, a master who craves the miracle Holy Grail most of all.

The untold truth of the Fourth Holy Grail War that occurred 10 years before Fate/Stay Night – the truth of the battle fought by Shiro’s adopted father, Rin’s father, and young Kirei Kotomine – is about to be revealed!

When it comes to video games and its its characters, I don’t think I’ve seen a title derived from a video game, within the last decade, achieve so much attention than the “Fate” series from TYPE-MOON.

This series has captivated people from all over the world and merchandise from video games, nendoroids, PVC figures, you name it, there are many “Fate” fans all over the world.

And of course, the “Fate” series has led to manga, anime series and animated films.

“Fate/stay night” was the first game that was released in 2004 and would lead to a 20-volume manga series from 2006-2012 and an anime TV series created in 2006 and would be condensed to an animated film titled “Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works” in 2010.

Meanwhile, back in 2006, Gen Urobuchi (best known for his work on “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Psycho-Pass”, “Blassreiter”, “Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom”) would create a light novel series “Fate/Zero” and feature illustrations by Takashi Takeuchi and the four-volume light novel series would last through 2007.  The series would serve as a prequel to “Fate/stay night” and was a collaboration between Type-Moon and Nitroplus.

The light novel series would feature a manga adaptation and an anime adaptation which would last two seasons from 2011-2012.

The series was directed by Ei Aoki (“Ga-Rei-Zero”, “Hourou Musuko”, “Coyote Ragtime Show”), screenplay shared by Akihiro Yoshida, Akira Hiyama, Kazuharu Sato and Takumi Miyajima, music composition by Yuki Kajiura (“Sword Art Online”, “.hack/” series, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”), character designs by Atsushi Ikariya (“Harmonie”, “The Devil is a PArt-Timer!”) and Tomonori Sudou (“Coyote Ragtime Show”, “Garden of Sinners”) and art direction by Koji Eto (“AKB0048”, “Steins;Gate”, “IDOLM@STER: XENOGLOSSIA”).

And now the first season will be released in the U.S. courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

What is “Fate/Zero”?

“Fate/Zero” takes place ten years before the events of “Fate/stay night”.

With the War of the Holy Grail being inconclusive, the Fourth Holy Grail War begins once again in which seven mages summon seven Heroic Spirits to compete in a battle of last person standing in order to gain the power of the “Holy Grail”.  For the pair that wins, a miracle will be granted.

Chosen to take part in the war are:

  • Kiritsugu Emiya/Saber and Irisviel von Einzbern – Kiritsugu is the main protagonist of this series who wants to end all conflict.  Known as the “Magus Killer” who is a master of firearms, he represents the Einzbern family in the Fourth Holy Grail War.  He is also married to Irisviel von Einzbern, a homunculus prototype created by the Einzbern family who are trying to create an ultimate homunculus.   When six or more servants are killed, she will manifest the Grail and lose her humanity which saddens Kiritsugu.  While Kiritsugu is the master of Saber, the King of England, he has no interested in the Holy Grail, while Saber wants to be granted the miracle of preventing the destruction of her homeland while she was a leader many years ago.
  • Kirei Kotomine/Assassin – Kirei is a priest who doesn’t seem happy when he does good deeds and commits many sins. He works for Tokiomi and is the master of Assassin.  When he has great hatred towards Kiritsugu and despite being a priest, like Kiritsugu, he is a master of weapons.  He has no true goal if he wins the Holy Grail aside from trying to find the meaning of life.  But his methods make him an antagonist of the series.  As for Assassin, trained at stealth and assassination and there may be more than one of them.
  • Waver Velvet/Rider – Waver wants to be a great mage by working hard, rather than one who is a mage by bloodline.  Waver steals an artifact meant for his teacher Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi and summons Rider, also known as Alexander the Great, The King of Conquerors, a huge, muscular man who has pride in battle.
  • Ryunosuke Uryu/Caster – Ryunosuke is a teenage serial killer who entices young children to his hideout place and kills them.  He also kills families of the children and summons Caster (Bluebeard), who also enjoys torturing children and is just as sadistic.
  • Tokiomi/Archer – The father of Rin Tosaka and Sakura Mato and the Master of Archer.  He is an arrogant mage and chooses Kirei Kotomine to be his understudy.  Archer is Gilgameshu, the first hero to set foot on Earth and has a dislike towards Saber and Rider who are also kings.
  • Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald/Lancer and Sola-Ui Nuaba-Re Sophia-Ri – Kayneth is a nobleman of the Magus Association, Lord of the house of El-Melloi and a prodigy of magecraft.  He is engaged to Sola-Ui as part of a strategic arrangement but she is coldhearted and is infatuated with Lancer.  Lancer is a Knight who is loyal to his master and has an agreement with Saber that the two would save each others in final battle.  And so they often help each other out to make sure no one spoils their agreement.  His birthmark is magical and attracts women.
  • Kariya Mato/Berserker – A member of the Mato family and looks at Sakura Mato as a daughter but is upset that Tokiomi allowed his child to be adopted by Zoken.   Despite having left the Mato Family out of disgust, he returns to make a deal with his father Zoken that if he wins the Grail War, Sakura will be free.  The more magic Kariya uses, the more his life will be eaten and the nerves in his body will die.  He is the master of Berserker, a servant who has the ability to use any object as a Noble Phantasm.  But because Berserker requires so much magic which Kariya is unable to match, it has caused Berseker to be in constant pain.

In the first season, each of the people get to know their servants well and partake in several battles.  As Saber and Lancer were to enjoy their fight, Rider arrives, as does Berserker.  But instead of killing each other, Rider ends up saving both Saber and Lancer earlier on.

Meanwhile, both Ryunosuke Uryu and Caster continue their killing spree and when Caster comes into contact with Saber, he believes her to be Jeanne d’Arc.  But as the two continue their killing ways, the war is put on hold as all masters and their servants are given a new order to destroy Caster due to the negative attention that has been created due to the children’s deaths.

As servants try to destroy Caster, someone is plotting to destroy Kayneth.

VIDEO:

“Fate/Zero” is presented in 1080p High Definition and because the series was created in HD, it looks much better than its older counterpart “Fate/stay night”.  Colors are vibrant, line detail is strong, I didn’t see any major banding or artifact issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/Zero” is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0.   I felt that the Japanese version had a bit of clarity with its lossless LPCM track with a slightly better dynamic range.  Both featuring good voice acting on both soundtracks, but for the most part, people have a chance to choose which soundtrack they want to listen to, which is a plus.   But dialogue and music sound crystal clear from the front channels.

It’s important to note that Aniplex Inc.’s “Fate/Zero” does not use the same English voice actors that were featured on Sentai Filmworks “Fate/stay night”.  While the Japanese voice talent featured on “Fate/stay night” are the same on “Fate/Zero”.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fate/Zero” comes with the following special features:

  • DISC 2 comes with the promotional trailers featuring each servant and the Blu-ray/DVD promotional trailer featuring each servant
  • DISC 4 comes with “Fate/Zero” Staff Interviews shot in June 2013 at ufotable cafe, Koenji, Tokyo Japan featuring Hikaru Kondo (Representative Director, Producer/ufotable), Ei Aoki (Director) and Atsuhiro Iwakami (Chief Producer/Aniplex Inc.) (26:10)

EXTRAS:

“Fate/Zero” comes with the following extras:

  • Fate/Zero Original Soundtrack I – Featuring music by Kajiura Yuki (duration: 47:19)
  1. Point Zero    3:47
  2. let the stars fall down    2:03
  3. grief    1:53
  4. nervous    1:17
  5. confrontation    1:44
  6. the battle is to the strong    3:04
  7. evacuation    2:00
  8. the legend    2:05
  9. little drop of peace    1:58
  10. the beginning of the end    3:05
  11. if you leave    2:11
  12. rabble-rousers    1:36
  13. strategy    1:52
  14. unrest    1:23
  15. back to the wall    1:34
  16. secret maneuvers    1:58
  17. an eerie enemy    1:36
  18. assassin    2:38
  19. a chaser    1:42
  20. to be continued    0:17
  21. painful    1:53
  22. rule the battlefield    3:16
  23. forebodings    0:45
  24. tragedy and fate    1:50
  • 16-Page “Fate/Zero” art booklet
  • Bushiroad WeiB Schwarz English Edition card – Featuring “Beautiful King of Knights, Saber”
  • Rigid Slipcase box with illustration by Takashi Takeuchi

 

The Fourth War for the Holy Grail begins and who shall be the victor?

“Fate/Zero”, the prequel to the “Fate/stay night” series is another action-packed anime series that features a much more in-depth and darker storyline.

I have played the “Fate” games on my Sony PSP and I have watched “Fate/stay night” and the movie and as much as I enjoyed the anime series, there is something about “Fate/Zero” which I enjoyed so much more.

Part of which adds to the efficacy towards the prequel is the fact that it is a newer anime series with much better production and different anime production, this time with ufotable in charge, and the series released in HD on Blu-ray includes more additional scenes not seen in the TV series.

“Fate/Zero” also features wonderful music by Yuki Kajiura and most of all, it’s how much darker and violent this anime series is compared to “Fate/stay night”.

The storyline benefits from the fact that there is emphasis on character development as we get to know more about the goal or influences of a master but also some history of various servants such as Saber, Rider, Lancer, etc.

While there is violence in “Fate/stay night”, it’s nothing near the violence that I found with “Fate/Zero”.  Especially with the characters of Ryunosuke Uryu and Caster, as scenes of them massacring children is something I was not expected to see nor would you expect to ever see in an anime series.

And this is important for those who are parents who are “Fate” fans to know that this is an anime series that you don’t want to watch with children in the room.  Children are nailed or screwed on the wall, they are tortured, their heads are crushed, their eyes bleed out blood.  And despite the sadistic things this master/servant are embroiled in, they are not the primary antagonist which is a surprise.

And if you thought Ryunosuke is sadistic as a master, there are other people that are just as cold and sadistic and you can’t help but be surprised of how “Fate/Zero” manages to incorporate action, also a little adventure but a horror aspect as well.

And you can’t help but feel that there is some sense of impending doom that will befall many of these characters because of ego or naivety  but some who are just downright twisted.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is much better than “Fate/stay night” as it was made in HD and features vibrant visuals.  As much as I would have loved a 5.1 lossless track, you do get both stereo Japanese and English soundtracks.  Hardcore English dub fans may be upset that the voice talent on “Fate/Zero” is different from the voice talent on “Fate/stay night”, while the Japanese voice talent are the same on both series.

And like all amazing limited edition box sets released from Aniplex Inc., there is a great amount of swag included such as the “Fate/Zero Original Soundtrack I”, an extra DVD disc with Japanese staff interview, a booklet, a Bushiroad card and more!

Overall, “Fate/Zero” has turned out to be a fantastic anime series which I enjoyed much more over “Fate/stay night”.  The storyline draws you in because of the better storytelling but also has a bit of creepiness due to how much darker this series is in terms of violence is featured.  And once again, Aniplex Inc. has delivered when it comes to releasing a fantastic limited edition Blu-ray release with a good amount of swag!

“Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set I” is a must-see for those who enjoyed “Fate/stay night” and are fans of the “Fate” series!  Better animation, better and much darker storyline.  Highly recommended!

 

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