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GATE Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“GATE Complete Collection” is an anime series that is probably one of the better anime series I have seen from Sentai Filmworks in the past few years.  It’s addictive, exciting and so much fun!  I definitely recommend it

Image courtesy of © Takumi Yanai/AlphaPolis/GATE Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: GATE Complete Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-24 (600 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV MA VSL

Release Date: July 11, 2017


Original Creator: Takumi Yanai

Original Character Design: Daisuke Izuka

Directed by Takahiko Kyogoku

Series Composition by Tatsuhiko Urahata

Music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa

Character Design by Jun Nakai

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Jun Nakai

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hisako Kanemoto/Juliet Simmons as Tuka Luna Marceau

Junichi Suwabe/David Wald as Yōji Itami

Haruka Tomatsu/Jessica Boone as Pina Co Lada

Hiroki Yasumoto/Ty Mahany as Akira Tomita

Ikumi Hayama/Shanae’a Moore as Hamilton Uno Law

Kaito Ishikawa/Tyler Galindo as Takeo Kurata

Maaya Uchida/Stephanie Wittels as Shino Kuribayashi

Nao Tōyama/Brittney Karbowski as Lelei la Lelena

Risa Taneda/Molly Searcy as Rory Mercury

Satomi Akesaka/Allison Sumrall as Mari Kurokawa

Yōko Hikasa/Rachel Landon as Yao Ha Ducy

Yumi Uchiyama/Patricia Duran as Bozes Co Palestea


When a mysterious gate suddenly appears in Tokyo’s Ginza district and begins spewing armed warriors and flying monsters, the world is thrown into turmoil. Although the deadly attack is thrown back by Japan’s Self Defense Force, there’s now a new and entirely unknown land on the other side of the portal, and Japan is effectively at war with a nation on the other side.

Determined to secure peace, the JSDF must send an armed force into the Gate, but ogres, dragons and a ruthless Empire populated by elves, humans, and half-animal warriors aren’t the only dangers they’ll face. With the resources of two worlds at stake, the balance of power on both sides of the Gate is destabilizing, and betrayal can come at any time, from any quarter. There, trapped right in the middle of the ensuing firestorm, stands officer Yoji Itami and the JSDF’s Third Reconnaissance Team as they plunge into the GATE.


In 2006, author Takumi Yanai and illustrator Daisuke Izuka and Kurojishi created a fantasy novel series titled “Gate: Jietai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri” (“Gate: Thus the Japanese Self-Defense Force Fought There!”).

The novel would receive a manga adaptation in 2011 and spin-off mangas in 2015.  And an anime adaptation of the series was created by A-1 Pictures and released in July to September 2015 and its second half airing in January through March 2016.

The anime series is directed by Takahiko Kyogoku (“Love Live! School Idol Project”), a screenplay by Tatsuhiko Urahata (“Beyblade”, “Black Bullet”, “DNA2”, “Nana”), music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa (“Dimension W”, “Love Live! School Idol Project”), character design by Jun Nakai (“Generation Gawl”, “Mardock Scramble”) and art direction by Maho Takahashi (“Amagami SS”, “Cross Game”, “Himawari!”, “KanColle”).

And with the announcement of a new novel series titled “Gate: Weigh Anchor”, the anime adaptation titled “GATE” and the complete collection was released on Blu-ray and DVD in the United States on July 2017 courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series revolves around Yoji Itami, a 33-year-old otaku who loves doujinshi.  While he may seem like a clumsy otaku, in truth, Yoji is actually a soldier of the Japan Self Defense Force that works in Special Forces and a certified Ranger.

One day, a portal from another world appears in Ginza and soldiers from that other world including monsters attack Tokyo but the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) has advanced weaponry and manages to kill and repel the enemy.  But thanks to Itami, he helped escort hundreds of people to safety during the attack on Ginza and is promoted to first lieutenant.

And because of his heroism, the Prime Minister tasks Itami to go with a JSDF task forced backed by the United States to go through the gate and explore the new world but most importantly to capture and demand reparations from those responsible for the attack.

As the Empire of the other world sends a large army to fight against the JSDF, the JSDF displays their power with modern weaponry and obliterates them.  Itami is then assigned to lead the 3rd Recon Unit and through his travels, meets the following people who are from the other world but join him on his adventures:

  • Tuka Luna Marceau – A 165-year-old High Elf.  She lost her family and fellow villagers when a flame dragon attacked her village.  She is having a hard time coping with her father’s death.
  • Lelei La Lelena – A 15-year-old sorcerer of the Rurudo nomad tribe and a student of an elderly sorcerer.  Very intelligent, she quickly learns Japanese and becomes a translator.  Her tribe was also devastated due to the Fire Dragon.
  • Rory Mercury – A 961-year-old demi-goddess and an apostle of Emroy (God of death).  She cannot die and recovers from all wounds.  When she becomes 1,000-years-old, she will become a full goddess.  She has excellent fighting skills and carries a large scythe and wears gothic lolita clothing.
  • Yao Haa Dushi – A 300-years-old Dark Elf, who seeks the aid of the JSDF to help her village which is being ravaged by the Fire Dragon.
  • Pina Co Lada – The princess from the Empire.  She is dedicated to the Empire’s welfare and wants peace between Japan and the Empire after seeing their awesome power.  But also seeing how the Japanese are not after their land and how they treat their people, including prisoners.  Seeing how they truly are, she wants to let her father, the king of the Empire know.

VIDEO:

“GATE Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Animation is very good, detailed and vibrant. From many location scenes and varying backgrounds, the background art is great.  Character designs and animation from A-1 Pictures is great and if anything, with A-1 Pictures behind the production, they really go all out and have not been disappointed with any of their anime series releases.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“GATE Complete Collection” is presented in Japanese and English 1.0. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear through the front channels and the voice acting on both soundtracks are well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“GATE Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Japanese Promo Videos
  • Animated Comic
  • Clean Opening and Ending Songs

EXTRAS:

“GATE Complete Collection” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the anime series.


There are times when I watch an anime with no expectations and if anything, I wish for something original, refreshing and overly entertaining.  Having reviewed anime since the early ’90s, I have been fortunate to watch anime series that really captivates me and just makes me want to watch it over again.

“GATE” is one of those anime series.  Each and every episode, I absolutely enjoyed them.

While one can say it’s an anime version of “Stargate”, not really.  When the otherworld invades Ginza, Japan, they are reminiscent of knights of past fighting a war with ogres and monsters in the present.

The twist is when Japan sends their Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) to the otherworld, with modern technology, the first army battalion sent by the Empire are literally obliterated.  Shields are not going to guard machine gun bullets.  Armies are not going to survive mortar attacks.  Battalions on horseback are not going to beat tanks.  And archers are not going to defeat military helicopters or jet bombers.

But while the JSDF seem like they may be the bad guys to those in the empire, in truth, they don’t want to kidnap, take over the land or do anything nefarious.  They want to send a warning to the empire, to put it bluntly, don’t come into our territory, kill our people and expect to rule our land.

And as much as it may seem like a serious anime, it really isn’t thanks to the person heading the operation for the JSDF to protect the people (not just in Japan but anywhere they arrive) and that’s Officer Itami.  A man who is a decorated Ranger but in truth, he just wanted a job that would allow him to be an otaku fanboy, so he can read doujinshi.

And with each tribe he meets and visits, he and the JSDF saves them and wants nothing in return.   He eventually is joined by High Elf Tuka Luna Marceau, a 15-year-old sorceress named Lelei La Lelena, a demi-goddess named Rory Mercury and a dark elf named Yao Haa Dushi.

People grateful for what Itami has done for them and now they want to help get his message across to the Empire and other people in the land.

And when Itami and the others meet Pina Co Lada, princess from the empire, at first she thinks that the “men in green” want to take over the empire but the more she stays with Itami, in hopes to spread peace and hopes for the JSDF to not destroy them, she is willing to negotiate a peace agreement with the Japanese.

And the path to protecting people is not easy, thanks to a corrupt empire with a corrupt son wanting to usurp his father, the king.  Then you have a giant flame dragon killing people all over the land.  And on Earth, you have countries who want to go after the other world friends of Itami and causing problems for the JDSF.  So, it’s not an easy path.

But no matter the difficult, Yoji Itami keeps his cool, keeps positive and is willing to go to great lengths to protect people not just in Japan but also people living in the other world led by the empire.

Also, another plus is the many supporting characters featured and the series really becomes a wonderful anime series with action, adventure and fantasy elements combined.

As for the animation on Blu-ray, A-1 Pictures always does a phenomenal job and they did a magnificent job with animating this series along with providing a plethora of background art, to compliment the large area of land and areas that these individuals visit.  The lossless soundtrack is 2.0 but both English and Japanese dialogue are crystal clear.  And there are a few special features included as well.

Overall, “GATE Complete Collection” is an anime series that is probably one of the better anime series I have seen from Sentai Filmworks in the past few years.  It’s addictive, exciting and so much fun!  I definitely recommend it

www.wagnaria!! Volume 1 (A J!-ENT Anime on J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

wagnaria3v2-a

www.wagnaria!!” is delightful and fun! For anime fans looking for an anime series with a lot of comedy and quirky characters, especially for those who enjoyed previous “Wagnaria” seasons, will enjoy this latest anime series. Featuring new, fun and interesting characters working at a Wagnaria restaurant, this latest anime series is worth checking out!

Purchase from RightStuf

Image courtesy of © Karino Takatsu/SQUARE ENIX, “WWW.WAGNARIA!!” Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: www.wagnaria!! Volume 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episode 1-7 (168 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: July 18, 2017


Originally created by Karino Takatsu

Directed by Yumi Kamakura

Series Composition by Takao Yoshioka

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Mayuko Nakano

Art Director: Masaru Sato

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Nakano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu as Hana Miyakoshi

Yūichi Nakamura as Daisuke Higashida

Ari Ozawa as Rui Nagata

Aya Hisakawa as Sachiko Higashida

Hideyuki Umezu as Saint Valentine

Hiro Shimono as Takuya Kōno

Kensho Ono as Yūta Shindō

Kouki Uchiyama as Masahiro Adachi

Kousuke Toriumi as Kenichirō Sakaki

Mie Sonozaki as Yōko Miyakoshi

Momo Asakura as Miri Yanagiba

Momoko Saito as Sakiko Higashida

Nana Mizuki as Kisaki Kondō


Sota Takanashi, who loves all things small, one day got invited to work at the family restaurant WAGNARIA by Popura Taneshima, an upperclassman at school. There, he discovered all kinds of eccentric characters that turned his working experience into something unexpected. What kind of dangerous comedy awaits Sota and his coworkers at WAGNARIA today?

On his day off, Sota receives a call from someone called “Minegishi.” Claiming to be under the order of Sota’s mom, “Minegishi” is snooping around for information. Back at WAGNARIA, Sato finally musters up the courage to ask Yachiyo out on a date, but Yachiyo starts acting weird after that. Meanwhile, Sota and Mahiru’s relationship is at an awkward stage after Sota said something. Seeing this happening, Sota’s sister Izumi decides to do something about it. And finally, Yamada reveals the truth about her running away…


Back in 2005, mangaka Karino Takatsu created a four-panel comic strip manga series titled “Wagnaria!!”.

The story which revolves around employees of a family restaurant called Wagnaria, the story was serialized on Square Enix’s “Young Gangan” manga series from 2005-20014 and has received three seasons of anime adaptations in 2010, 2011 and 2015.

A spin-off series titled “www.working!!” which aired in Japan in 2016, will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the US Courtesy of Aniplex and the storyline continues to be set at another Wagnaria family restaurant location and its group of employees.

The first volume will feature the first seven episodes of the 13-episode series.

The primary characters of “www.wagnaria!!” are:

  • Daisuke Higashida – The main protagonist who is often annoyed at everyone, primarily his family and Hana Miyakoshi.  He was forced to take a part-time job at Wagnaria when his father’s business went bankrupt.
  • Hana Miyakoshi – Blunt, always hits people and she can be tough.  But she also loves making chocolates, despite having terrible cooking skills. She is a waitress at Wagnaria.
  • Sayuri Muranushi – A scary girl who works at Wagnaria because she shows hardly any facial expressions.
  • Kisaki Kondo – A single mother who is a university student that works at Wagnaria.  Often the voice of reason at Wagnaria.
  • Shiho Kamakura – The daughter of man who owns a large company, so she is quite spoiled and materialistic.  She often tends to bribe people with money, as her way of apologizing.
  • Yuta Shindo – A son of a man who has a business in major debt.  So, Yuta works several jobs in order to help pay the debt.  He is to naive to know that Shiho has liked him for a long time.
  • Koki Saki – The newest employee who is Japanese but was raised abroad and speaks English, so he can’t speak or understand Japanese that well.
  • Kenichiro Sakaki – The not-so-bright manager of Wagnaria.
  • Rui Nagata – A classmate of Daisuke.  She has a crush on him but has a problem of misunderstanding things.
  • Yoko Miyakoshi – Hana’s mother who is a cooking expert that is shocked of her daughter’s terrible cooking.  Currently, her husband is living far from her because her cooking gave him diabetes and can’t come back until his glucose levels have dropped.

VIDEO:

www.wagnaria!!” is presented in 1080p High Definition. animation is good, slightly soft was one can expect form a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the manga series. Cut scenes are well-detailed and emotion is well-captured and scenes are well-acted.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

www.wagnaria!!” is presented in Japanese Linear PCM Stereo. Dialogue is crystal clear and the voice acting is well-done. It’s important to emphasize that there is no English dub included.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

www.wagnaria!!” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

www.wagnaria!!” vol. 1 comes with four collectible illustration postcards, a slipcase featuring illustrations by Shingo Adachi and a clear case with 2-sided covers.


For those who like slice of life anime series, will no doubt enjoy the humor and fun of  “www.wagnaria!!”, a character driven series about a group of people working for the family restaurant, Wagnaria.

Consistent with the previous anime series, in terms of wacky characters and situations, “www.wagnaria!!” centers around a blunt and easily annoyed teenager named Daisuke Higashida who is forced to work a part-time job after his father’s business goes bankrupt.

On the first day of the job, Daisuke meets his fellow co-workers such as the bossy and punchy teen, Hana Miyakoshi.  She’s often with Daisuke, making others think that they are boyfriend and girlfriend, especially since he eats her terrible chocolates.

They are joined by the expressionless and slightly creepy Sayuri Muranushi.  While emotionless, the fellow cook Masahiro is shy and tends to pass out when she smiles at him.  You have single mother, Kisaki Kondo, spoiled brat Shiho Kamakura and Yuta (who’s family is full of debt) and many more characters that make work at Wagnaria lively and entertaining.

As for the Blu-ray release, the animation for “www.wagnaria!!” is colorful, vibrant and has slight softness, as one can expect from an animated TV series.  Lossless audio is primarily Japanese Linear PCM Stereo with no English dub included. Unfortunately, there are no special features.

But being an Aniplex release, you are definitely going to get some swag with this latest release. You get four collectible illustration postcards and a slipcase.

Overall, “www.wagnaria!!” is delightful and fun! For anime fans looking for an anime series with a lot of comedy and quirky characters, especially for those who enjoyed previous “Wagnaria” seasons, will enjoy this latest anime series.  Featuring new, fun and interesting characters working at a Wagnaria restaurant, this latest anime series is worth checking out!

Purchase from RightStuf

 

Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is a fantastic, action-packed season with a wonderful second half that makes one crave for more!   I’m really hoping there is a third season but if you want an entertaining, action-driven anime series with a lot of humor and heart, definitely give “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” on Blu-ray a chance! 

Purchase from Right-Stuf

Images courtesy of © 2012 Shinobu Ohtaka/SHOGAKUKAN, Magi Committee, MBS. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set

DURATION: Episodes 1-25 (or 26-50 if both seasons include) (625 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 HD Widescreen), English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally Created by Shinobu Ohtaka

Directed by Koji Masunari

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto, Taichi Maezuka

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Erica Mendez as Aladdin

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Alibaba Saluja

Haruka Tomatsu/Cristina Vee as Morgiana

Darrel Guilbeau/Kensho Ono as Ren Hakuryu

Julie Ann Taylor/Asami Seto as Seishun Li

Keith Silverstein/Yoshimasa Hosoya as Masrur

Kira Buckland/Kana Hanazawa as Ren Kogyuku

Lucien Dodge.Takahiro Sakurai as Ja’far

Marc Diraison/Shinichiro Miki as Ithnan

Matthew Mercer/Daisuke Ono as Sinbad

Patrick Seitz/Toshiyuki Morikawa as Ugo

Sean Chiplock/Jun Fukuyama as Cassim

Todd Haberkorn/Ryohei Kimura as Judal

Trinity Lee/Nana Mizuki as Ren Hakuei

Vic Mignogna/Kenichi Suzumura as Ka Kobun

 


Equipped with a charm to mask his powers as a Magi, Aladdin arrives to Magnoshutatt to study magic, with another goal—to investigate the nation’s relation with the Al-Tharmen, the power behind the “Abnormalities of the World.”

While training at the academy, Aladdin meets Titus Alexius, a prodigy from the Leam Empire, who also has the same charm as Aladdin’s


With the success of conquering a dungeon, Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu Ren know that they must each embark on a new journey alone.

Aladdin must train to become a stronger magi, Alibaba travels to the Leam Empire to challenge the gladiators, Morgiana heads to her homeland of Katarg and Hakuryu makes his return to the Kou Empire as a different man.

Will each of them learning anything from their training?

Find out in “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set”.

What is “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” about?

When it comes to opportunities of becoming a manga writer/artist (mangaka), Shinobu Ohtaka’s story.

She has written about her story of how she became a manga artist, as a person who was the person who would sit quietly in the corner of class and was not really great at anything and often playing a supporting role. But if there was one thing that she was confident in, it was drawing pictures.

And now this shy artist would not only have a hit manga but also anime series!

Her first year in high school, she was submitting manga manuscripts because it was her dream to become a manga author. And like many writers, her submissions were denied and this continued through high school and college. And when she was about to call it quits, she was given the opportunity to do a one-shot and it led to the creation of the series “Sumomo Momomo” in 2004 which would eventually become a 34 volume manga series (as of June 2017) and also a 50-episode anime series (for both “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” and “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”).

And now both seasons will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

In the second season of the series, the story takes place after Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu have defeated the dungeon.

But with Aladdin wanting to leave and go on his own adventure in order to grow stronger and study magic, the others realize they need to get stronger too and each go on their own direction.

For Aladdin, he knows he must learn how to master his magic and find out what kind of magic he can take control of. But needs to learn the power behind the “Abnormalities of the World”.  He comes across a mysterious prodigy from Lea named Titus Alexius.  But who is this man?

Alibaba must get stronger, so he decides to challenge the gladiators of the coliseum but he learns that he has two magoi in his body that may tear his insides apart.

Meanwhile, Morgiana goes back to her home of Katarg but is told that if she goes to other side of the mountain, she will be unable to come back to the other side.

As Hyakuren goes back to the Kou Empire in hopes that he will be the new leader but someone else has been assigned as leader.

Also, Aladdin continues his training at the Academy but the Academy’s Director has his own plans of what he is expecting from the magician’s and that is all out war against non-magicians.


VIDEO:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The series is well-animated, well-shaded and tends to feature hilarious character designs during the more comedy scenes, while showcasing emotion and drama during the most serious situations. Action scenes are well-animated, background art is well-detailed and painted beautifully.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo. Audio on the Blu-ray is front-channel driven but voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Dialogue, sound effects and music are crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Endings
  • English Version Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” comes with a slipcase.


With the second season of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”, we get a whole season dedicated to the training and growth of each of four individuals: Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu for the first half.

But the storyline for the second half focuses on Aladdin and his year-long training at a magician’s academy, growing in power, learning about magic but also preparing for a major war in the Kou Empire as true evil has descended in the land.

As episodes 13-16 focuses on Aladdin’s training, by episode 17, war begins as what begins as a major battle between nations, grows to a major battle against a monster that drains all White Rukh.

But what I enjoyed about this second half of season two is the focus on Aladdin and seeing him grow. He’s come such a long way since we first saw him and now he’s taller, he’s braver and he’s starting to get a better grasp of what is important to him but also what he wants to fight against.

I know my summary is quite vague but in truth, I really don’t want to spoil or even mentioned in the second half, who appears because the battles are intense and the storyline is quite appealing that it no doubt sets up for even more stories in the future. Expect to see a few surprises, especially for the viewer who have followed the series for so long. And especially in the final minutes of episode 5, which I never saw coming!

The Blu-ray release doesn’t have any significant special features but the textless opening and ending themes and an English trailer. Also, the swag that were included on the original DVD releases such as the two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster are not included. But you do get all 25 episodes in this one set in HD! So, it all comes down to if you are in it for the series or the swag? If you are more for the swag, then you may want to search out the 2015 DVD releases.

Overall, “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” is a fantastic, action-packed season with a wonderful second half that makes one crave for more!   I’m really hoping there is a third season but if you want an entertaining, action-driven anime series with a lot of humor and heart, definitely give “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” on Blu-ray a chance!

Purchase from Right-Stuf

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is awesome! Highly entertaining, full of action and humor! Definitely recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

Images courtesy of © 2012 Shinobu Ohtaka/SHOGAKUKAN, Magi Committee, MBS. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – Complete Blu-ray Set

DURATION: Episodes 1-25 (625 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 HD Widescreen), English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally Created by Shinobu Ohtaka

Directed by Koji Masunari

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto, Taichi Maezuka

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Erica Mendez as Aladdin

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Alibaba Saluja

Haruka Tomatsu/Cristina Vee as Morgiana

Darrel Guilbeau/Kensho Ono as Ren Hakuryu

Julie Ann Taylor/Asami Seto as Seishun Li

Keith Silverstein/Yoshimasa Hosoya as Masrur

Kira Buckland/Kana Hanazawa as Ren Kogyuku

Lucien Dodge.Takahiro Sakurai as Ja’far

Marc Diraison/Shinichiro Miki as Ithnan

Matthew Mercer/Daisuke Ono as Sinbad

Patrick Seitz/Toshiyuki Morikawa as Ugo

Sean Chiplock/Jun Fukuyama as Cassim

Todd Haberkorn/Ryohei Kimura as Judal

Trinity Lee/Nana Mizuki as Ren Hakuei

Vic Mignogna/Kenichi Suzumura as Ka Kobun


Alibaba is a young carrier who dreams of venturing into a “Dungeon,” where secret treasures lie deep within its labyrinth, to gain enough money to buy an entire country.

One day, Alibaba meets a mysterious boy named Aladdin, who can summon a mighty blue spirit from his flute. Hoping to harness Aladdin’s magical power, Alibaba invites him on his dungeon-capturing expedition.

Along the way, through numerous encounters and farewells, both of them will come to learn the truth about their destinies.


When it comes to opportunities of becoming a manga writer/artist (mangaka), Shinobu Ohtaka’s story.

She has written about her story of how she became a manga artist, as a person who was the person who would sit quietly in the corner of class and was not really great at anything and often playing a supporting role.  But if there was one thing that she was confident in, it was drawing pictures.

And now this shy artist would not only have a hit manga but also anime series!

Her first year in high school, she was submitting manga manuscripts because it was her dream to become a manga author. And like many writers, her submissions were denied and this continued through high school and college.   And when she was about to call it quits, she was given the opportunity to do a one-shot and it led to the creation of the series “Sumomo Momomo” in 2004 which would eventually become a 34 volume manga series (as of June 2017) and also a 50-episode anime series.

Having been released on DVD by Aniplex, for the first time the entire season will be collected in a Blu-ray set and will be released in June 2017.

“Magi” begins with a young Aladdin being given one wish.

We then see Alibaba, a thief who is working for a slave master who has been trying to find a dungeon for treasure. Everyone thinks that Alibaba is searching for something that doesn’t exist. But when he starts loading up a caravan with fruit, he catches a boy (Aladdin) eating all the watermelon.

Alibaba gets in trouble but as Aladdin follows Alibaba, Alibaba talks about dungeons that appeared 14 years ago and and Alibaba explains if one can capture one, there is a genuine magi wandering around and will grant magical power to someone. And Alibaba is in search of the magical vessel.

The following day, Aladdin bumps into a slave (Morgiana). When Aladdin wonders why her legs are chained, Alibaba tries to explain to Aladdin of what a slave is. So, not wanting to see Morgiana chained, Aladdin frees her by blowing into his flute and shattering the steel chain.

But not long after, one of the slave masters start pushing and stepping all over Morgiana, Aladdin tells the man to stop and the man threatens to execute Aladdin.

Aladdin then blows into the flute, massive arms come out of the flute. Ugo is a Djinn, spirits that appear in myth and not many people thought it was a real thing, but we learn through a flashback that Aladdin was given three wishes in which he could have fortune, fame and eternal life. But instead, he just wanted one wish and that is for Ugo to be his friend. And since then, the two have been together.

Ugo has a massive body without a head. As Aladdin goes on trips with various people, we learn that Aladdin must be well fed and have had a lot to drink in order to use Ugo, but also Ugo is shy if a girl touches him.

And as Alibaba finds out that Aladdin has a Djinn vessel, he decides to use Aladdin to use and partner with him in order to find a dungeon. Alibaba’s wish is to be rich and find treasure inside buildings that have shown up all over the world. And treasures with wonderful powers are the most valuable, the one that Alibaba seeks is the Djinn’s metal vessel.

But as Alibaba sees using Aladdin as important in his plans as Aladdin’s use of Ugo can help protect them while they visit the dungeons to find treasure, but he also realizes that for Aladdin, his main thing that makes him happy is having a friendship. For Alibaba, for now, he’ll play the role of being a friend in order to find treasure and obtain a Djinn metal vessel.

As Alibaba along with Aladdin look for the treasure inside a dungeon, not far behind them is the tyrant slave owner named Lord Jamil along with two slaves, including Morgiana.

Meanwhile, nearby is another person similar to Aladdin, clad in black and evil, a magi named Judar has decided to cause trouble for Aladdin and friends?  But what happens when Aladdin goes all out in his battle against Judar?

Meanwhile, an even greater threat arrives as Aladdin and friends must take on Dark Djinn’s, while Sinbad must protect the country against Al-Thamen and his forces.

The main characters of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” are:

    • Aladdin – A young magi who doesn’t know too much about himself or the outside world. But he’s kind and goodhearted and wants to protect the people he cares about. When he blows into a flute, a headless blue giant named Ugo comes out.
    • Alibaba – A thief who appears to have a mysterious background that befriends Aladdin.
    • Morgania – A slave who comes from a country of people known for their superior leg strength and speed. She is the slave of the tyrant, Lord Jamil.
    • Amon – A djinn with fire elemental powers contained in Alibaba’s training sword.
    • Sinbad – The King of Sindria and leader of the Alliance of the Seven Seas.  He has sailed the seven seas and captured seven dungeons and is a master of seven djinn.
    • Masrur – A Fanalis who works for Sinbad and trains Morgiana in hand to hand combat.
    • Ja’far – A former assassin who becomes loyal to Sinbad.
    • Hakuryuu Ren – The fourth prince in the Kou Empire who becomes an ally of Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgianna.
    • Judar – An evil Magi working for Al-Thamen.  Raised by Al-Thamen after the organization killed his parents.

VIDEO:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  The series is well-animated, well-shaded and tends to feature hilarious character designs during the more comedy scenes, while showcasing emotion and drama during the most serious situations. Action scenes are well-animated, background art is well-detailed and painted beautifully.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo.  Audio on the Blu-ray is front-channel driven but voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Dialogue, sound effects and music are crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Endings
  • English Version Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” comes with a slipcase.


Hilarious, fun and a little naughty, Shinobu Ohtaka’s “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” has turned out to be a pretty enjoyable series.

The main protagonist Aladdin is rather interesting because he has an appearance of a little boy who possesses a flute that houses a headless giant named Ugo. But there are quirks with Alibaba, for one, he’s often hungry and thirsty, which helps with activating Ugo. He’s also somewhat of a pervert as he is often wanting to rub his head on a woman’s breast.

But most importantly, it’s his strong desire to find and have friends which makes him a bit naive when people pretend to be his friend but they have ulterior motives.

One of these friends that he does make is Alibaba, a boy who is in severe debt and people who owe debts, end up being slaves for a wealthy owner (most often a tyrant). He desires wealth but most of all a Djinn, similar to Aladdin and hopes that with partnering with him, he can obtain treasure and a Djinn.

Also, adding interest to the overall storyline is the fact that everything takes place in the desert where bandits have ruled the land and many people have been killed or have become slaves. The only way to survive is by being a merchant and as a merchant, you are constantly under the threat of your merchandise being stolen by bandits and being killed. So, the storyline is set during a dangerous time where buildings have shown up all over the land and inside are treasures. But for those who have tried, all have not come back from their search.

But with the power of Ugo, Alibaba is betting that having Aladdin on his side, their chances of finding treasure and a Djinn is great.

The first quarter of the series features on developing the three characters of Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgiana and to showcase their backgrounds but also how the three became friends.

The middle part of the first season goes into Aladdin and Alibaba being separated but both going through trying experiences but learning about the outside world within the six months they were separated.

And the final part of the series, introduces us to a more deeper storyline involving all three but also introducing us to Sinbad and establishing the true antagonists of the series, especially the taller, dark version similar to Aladdin, an evil magi named Judar.

For those wondering if the series is safe to watch around children, this is a show for teens. As episode 1 alone has a bit of nudity and showcases Aladdin’s attraction to big breasts. Another episode has nudity as well, but there is also violence, for example, you will see one scene in which the tyrant Lord Jamil is seen stabbing one of his slaves repetitively with a sword.

As for differences between the manga and anime series, the anime series almost focuses on the manga completely with the exception of Aladdin’s introduction at the Oasis of Utan, in which Aladdin tags along with merchants Laylah and Sahsa, the daughter of a caravan leader (featured in the opening chapters of the first volume of the manga series). The two are introduced later in the series but are not featured in episode 1.

But for the most part, the anime series does not stray too far from Shinobu Ohtaka’s manga series.

As the first half of Shinobu Ohtaka’s “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” was lighthearted, full of humor and entertaining. The second half of the series has become much more deeper, serious and action-packed and Alibaba must make difficult decisions, Aladdin faces his greatest foe yet and Morgiana does all she can to become more powerful but to what expense?

In the first half, we watched as Aladdin was dependent on a headless giant named Ugo, but with Ugo gone after a major battle with the evil Judar, what will happen to Aladdin?

Also, a major difference between the first half of the series and the second half, is the inclusion of more characters. Sinbad plays much more of a role as Al-Thamen declares war on Sindria and Sinbad and forces must do all they can to fight against Al-Thamen and the Dark Djinn.

With the conclusion to season one featuring a battle with someone they know quite well.

But for the most part, this second half for season one is a whole different vibe than the first. While you do get the perverted humor for a brief moment, the series is primarily action non-stop with so many dire situations involving Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgiana.

While the trio meet new friends and allies, there is also a lot of heartbreak as both Aladdin and Alibaba lose something special in their lives. So, one can expect a deep, action-packed storyline for episodes 13-25.

For those wondering if the series is safe to watch around children, this is a show for teens. There is quite a bit of violence, maybe not as bloody as some of the episodes of the first half, but there is quite a bit of fighting violence.

The Blu-ray release doesn’t have any significant special features but the textless opening and ending themes and an English trailer.  Also, the swag that were included on the original DVD releases such as the collectable foil stamped postcards and deluxe booklets are not included.  But you do get all 25 episodes in this one set in HD!  So, it all comes down to if you are in it for the series or the swag?  If you are more for the swag, then you may want to search out the 2014 DVD releases.

Overall, “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is awesome! Highly entertaining, full of action and humor!  Definitely recommended!

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Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale (a J!-ENT Anime Film Review)

March 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I found the storyline of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” to be extremely satisfying and as a person who has watched the series and loved nearly every episode, I really enjoyed seeing the progression of Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and how that relationship plays a big part in the film’s storyline. I really do feel that fans will enjoy this SAO film! A wonderful and engrossing storyline filled with action and drama, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of  2017 © REKI KAWAHARA/PUBLISHED BY KADOKAWA CORPORATION ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO MOVIE Project. © RK/KC AMW/SM


Originally created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Scenario by Reki Kawahara, Tomohiko Ito

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design: Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima

Chief Animation Director: Shingo Adachi

Sound Director: Yoshikazu Iwanami

CGI Director: Ryuta Undo

Director of Photography: Kentaro Waki

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu as Asuna Yūki

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Kazuto Kirigaya/Kirito

Ayahi Takagaki as Rika Shinozaki/Lizbeth

Ayana Taketatsu as Suguha Kirigaya/Leafa

Hiroaki Hirata as Klein

Hiroki Yasumoto as Andrew Gilbert Mills/Agil

Kanae Itō as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro as Shino Asada/Sinon

Rina Hidaka as Keiko Ayano/Silica

Sayaka Kanda as Yuna

Takeshi Kaga as Professor Shigemura

Yoshio Inoue as Eiji

Kouichi Yamadera as Akihiko Kayaba


2022 – The NerveGear, the world’s first dedicated full-dive device developed by the genius programmer, Akihiko Kayaba. It was a revolutionary machine that opened up infinite possibilities for the world of VR (Virtual Reality.) 4 years later…. A next-generation, wearable multi-device called the Augma has been released to compete with the NerveGear’s successor – the Amusphere. A cutting-edge machine boasting the ability to enhance AR (Augmented Reality) to the maximum, the Augma offers a safe, user-friendly experience, as it can be used while the player is awake, making it an instant hit. Its killer title is an ARMMORPG developed exclusively for the Augma, “Ordinal Scale (a.k.a. OS).” Kirito is about to join Asuna and the others as an Ordinal Scale player, but…


The year 2026.

Two years after the “Sword Art Online” fiasco perpetrated by SAO creator Akihiko Kayaba which left many gamers injured or dead, a new technology is to be released.  A technology that is thought to be safe and nothing like the Nerve Gear that was used in “Sword Art Online”.

Now people can use the Augma, the successor to the Amusphere full-dive system which allows a player to play a game that simulates reality while the player is conscious (via augmented reality).

And one of the popular games created for the Augma is “Ordinal Scale”.  A game which has quickly gain popularity that Asuna, Lisbeth and Silica are playing it, but surprisingly Kirito hasn’t jumped aboard to play the game just yet until now.

As people get into the game, part of the main appeal to “Ordinal Scale” is the game’s mascot, an AI idol singer named Yuna who appears during the game to increase the stats of players.

While everyone is playing, the #2 ranked player Eiji helps the Kirito, Asuna and team defeat the level boss but Eiji uses the words “switch”, a term that was used in SAO to Asuna.

Meanwhile, Asuna tells Kirito that Eiji is most likely a member of the Knights of the Blood Oath named Nautilus, Yui tells them that the appearance of Aincrad bosses in “Ordinal Scale” are similar to the line up with the SAO dungeon maps.

As Asuna goes to play the game with her friends again, immediately Yuna and Eiji appear and Eiji pushes Asuna towards the level boss.

When Asuna is hit, she passes out and suddenly, Asuna starts to realize that her memories from SAO are starting to disappear. Concerned, Kirito takes Asuna to the hospital to get checked out and it is learned that the Augma device has scanned her brain for SAO memories, and it may have happened to other SAO players that are playing “Ordinal Scale”.

With Asuna’s memory loss of SAO, that means her memories of her friends, but most importantly her memories of Kirito will disappear.

A desperate Kirito tries to search for answers and promises that he will do whatever he can to get Asuna’s memories back.  But what will his search unveil?

What is “Sword Art Online” about:

In 2002, writer Reki Kawahara wrote a novel series titled “Sword Art Online” under the name Fumio Kunori.

While Kawahara would receive critical acclaim for his novel “Accel World” in 2009, which earned Kawahara an ASCII Media Works’ 15th Dengeki Novel Prize and also winning the Grand Prize in 2008, the popularity of his “Accel World” storyline would lead to “Sword Art Online” being republished and also featuring the art work of illustrator, abec.

This time using his real name on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeku Bunko label from April 10, 2009 and a spin-off series in 2012.  The series has since spawned a total of ten manga adaptations, two anime series, one TV film, five video games and now an animated film.

The original “Sword Art Online” series is set in 2022 and many are playing the Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG), “Sword Art Online” (SAO for short).

The game comes with a virtual reality helmet known as a Nerve Gear which uses the five senses of the brain and so players can control their characters with their mind.

The anime series focuses on protagonist, Kirito, one of the 1,000 beta testers of the Closed Beta version of SAO.  On November 6th, the game is released to the public and Kirito is enjoying the game and meets Klein, who has experience playing RPG’s but learns from Kirito about the basics of the game.

While the two are talking, suddenly they are transported to the main courtyard and are unable to log out.  They are told by the creator of SAO, Akihiko Kayaba, that all of the people playing are stuck in the game.  If anyone takes of the virtual reality helmet of a player, they will die.

As for those playing the game, if they want to be free of the game, they must reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss.  But if their avatars (their game character) dies in the game, their bodies will also die in the real world.  Also,  people in the real world who were stuck in the game have died by someone removing their Nerve Gear.

In the first series, Kirito and Asuna have become an online couple and while Kirito was able to succeed and free everyone by defeating the final boss of “Sword Art Online”, he has been utilized by law enforcement to assist in troubles that have affected users (as seen in “Sword Art Online II”).

In reality, Kazuto Kirigaya (Kirito) and Asuna Yuuki (Asuna) have continued their relationship outside of the game.  Asuna dreams of marrying Kazuto and having a family with him in the future.

And with the 2017 animated film “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”, with Asuna’s memories of SAO fading, the dreams of her and Kirito being together may now be in jeopardy.


If there is one thing that “Sword Art Online” has proved over the years, that Reki Kawahara’s light novels and the anime adaptation inspired from it, are popular among many fans worldwide.

I had no doubt in my mind that “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” would do well as a theatrical release, not just in Japan but other countries worldwide, especially the United States.

Considering the film is not a Studio Ghibli film or an animated film with no Disney or Hollywood movie studio connect, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” grossed $1.35 million in the first four days of its North American run.

In fact, the film set an opening weekend record for an Aniplex of America theatrical release and has played in 560 theaters nationwide.

And that is for a film that debuted in American theaters with Japanese voice acting and English subtitles.  And for those who dislike reading during their films, Aniplex of America will be releasing the film with an English dub soundtrack in April 2017 for a limited theatrical engagement.

Watching “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”, it has everything that fans have loved in the series.  A lot of action, a lot of humor but also emotional drama as viewers have watched and seen the relationship between Kazuto (Kirito) and Asuna evolve and in this film, you really see how far their love for each other has blossomed.  And so, this film has become a fight for love and Kazuto doing all that is necessary to make sure that the young woman he loves is saved from losing her memories due to a new threat.

Fans will also love seeing characters from the past making their appearance in the video game but one will no doubt be anticipating the next SOA storyline as the ending teaser (after all the credits are done) shows us another menacing threat that will surely surprise fans of the series.

Animation is fantastic as A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with capturing emotion in the faces of the characters but also within action sequences.  Voice acting is wonderful in its original Japanese soundtrack and English subtitles were easy to read.  And having watched the original series in both Japanese and English, I’m expecting the English dub to be equally fantastic when the English version of the film is released in US theaters this April.

If there was anything that I didn’t get into all that much in regards to “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is the overuse of AI idol singer Yuna.  Music plays a big part in the film and where idol singers through battle is something we are accustomed to seeing in “Macross” anime series or film, it was not something I expected all that much in “Sword Art Online” and felt it was done a little bit too much for my tastes but at the same time, I’m sure it benefits Aniplex for music soundtrack sales and I’m sure fans who loved the music in the film will no doubt be seeking to purchase the soundtrack.

But I also hope that Aniplex, a company known for giving fans a lot of swag with their limited edition releases, will include the film’s soundtrack with the Blu-ray release of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”.

I absolutely enjoyed “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” but I do recommend people who know nothing about the series to at least watch the SAO series before jumping into the film.

Overall, I found the storyline of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” to be extremely satisfying and as a person who has watched the series and loved nearly every episode, I really enjoyed seeing the progression of Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and how that relationship plays a big part in the film’s storyline.  I really do feel that fans will enjoy this SAO film!

A wonderful and engrossing storyline filled with action and drama, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is highly recommended!

The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

irregular-3

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” Blu-ray release features an action-packed conclusion to the first season and the mystery revolving around Tatsuya and Miyuki are finally revealed. Action-packed and full of excitement, “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Tsutomu Sato. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance

DURATION: Episodes 19-26 (200 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and up

Release Date: December 8, 2015


Original Creator: Tsutomu Satou

Original Character Design by Kana Ishida

Director: Manabu Ono

Script by Yukie Sugawara

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design: Kana Ishida

Art Director: Rie Ota

Director of Photography: Yuuki Kawashita

Anime Production: MADHOUSE


Featuring the following voice talent:

Saori Hayami as Miyuki Shiba

Yūichi Nakamura as Tatsuya Shiba

Atsushi Tamaru as Mikihiko Yoshida

Ayumu Murase as Shinkurō Kichōji

Chiwa Saito as Maya Yotsuba

Haruka Tomatsu as Sayaka Mibu

Junichi Suwabe as Katsuto Jūmonji

Kana Hanazawa as Mayumi Saegusa

Koji Yusa as Zhou Gongjin

Mai Nakahara as Suzune Ichihara

Marina Inoue as Mari Watanabe

Ryohei Kimura as Hanzō Hattorigyōbushōjō

Saki Ogasawara as Azusa Nakajō

Sakura Tange as Haruka Ono

Saori Ōnishi as Kanon Chiyoda

Satomi Satou as Mizuki Shibata

Sōma Saitō as Kei Isori

Sora Amamiya as Honoka Mitsui

Takuma Terashima as Leonhart Saijo

Tomokazu Sugita as Takeaki Kirihara

Toru Ohkawa as Harunobu Kazama

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Masaki Ichijō

Yuiko Tatsumi as Shizuku Kitayama

Yumi Uchiyama as Erika Chiba


The season turns from summer to fall. This is also the time for students to prepare for the “National High School Magic Thesis Competition,” a.k.a. “Thesis Competition.” At this nationwide competition, students representing each of the nine magic schools in the country present their research on topics ranging from magic theory to magic engineering. If the Nine Schools Competition was meant to assess the students’ “physical” capabilities, the Thesis Competition evaluates their “mental” proficiency.

Even though he is a Course 2 student and only a first-year, Tatsuya is appointed to represent his school along with his group members to present their thesis on “the technical feasibility of a Gravity Control-type Thermonuclear Fusion Reactor.” At the same time, Tatsuya is approached by his stepmother, Sayuri Shiba, to help analyze a “Relic.”

Meanwhile, in Yokohama, where this year’s Thesis Competition was scheduled to take place, local authorities investigate a series of unlawful entries into the country and work to keep the situation under control. This, however, is only the beginning of a greater conflict that would soon involve the students at the Thesis Competition…


With “Yokahama Disturbance” (episodes 19-26) kicking off a new story arc for Tatsuya and Miyuki, this time the schools will compete in a “Magical Thesis Competition”.

But their step mother enlists Tatsuya for his help in finding a mysterious and elusive relic that can change the history of magic, but another group is trying to steal it.

Find out what happens in the latest arc for “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

What is “The irregular at magic high school” about?

In 2011, Tsutomu Sato and illustrator Kana Ishida created the Japanese light novel “Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” (The irregular at magic high school).

Since then, 16 novels have been published via ASCII Media Works including five manga adaptations by Ascii Media Works and Square Enix. Including two video games and a 26-episode animated series in 2014.

The animated series was released in the United States courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first Blu-ray volume featuring the first seven episodes.

“The irregular at magic high school” is set during a time where magic has been utilized as technology for nearly a century. Those who are gifted with magical abilities can cast spells using a CAD (Casting Assistant Device) and is infused with psions, a substanceless particle and psychic phenomenon.

In the year 2095, Tatsuya Shiba and his younger sister Miyuki Shiba are enrolled at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School, where students are ranked according to their test scores. Those who rank higher in practical magic ability are put on priority and are enrolled in course 1, while those with lower practical magic test scores are enrolled in course 2.

While Tatsuya scored the highest in written/theoretical portion of the exam, he scored poorly in practical magic, so he is in course 2, while Miyuki is in course 1 because of her high scores, and also selected to be the first year representative because of her high ranking score on the exam.

Miyuki is overprotective of her brother and has a little crush on him as well. So, it hurts her when she sees him being picked on because he is in Course 2 (the Course 1 students look at Course 2 students as “weeds”).

But because Tatsuya undergoes shinobi training, his fighting skills are top-notched.

At school, the two befriend Course 2’s Erika Chiba (the youngest daughter of the Chiba Family, known for their swordsmanship), Course 2’s Mizuki Shibata (has the ability to see Spirit Particle emissions) and Course 2’s Leonhard Saijo (his grandfather was a German Fortress Series magician).

One day, Tatsuya and his friends are bullied by Course 1 students and despite Miyuki being angered by her classmates, Tatsuya tries to calm her down and take in the bullying. But when one challenges Tatsuya to a fight, his skills catch the attention of the Student Council and Public Morals Committee because of his ability to read activation sequences in real time.

Tatsuya becomes the first Course 2 student to be nominated in the Public Morals committee (also to help diffuse the prejudice against Course 2 students).

As a representative of the Public Morals Committee at the high school, Tatsuya must now enforce the law in school, meanwhile having to deal with Course 1 students prejudice towards Course 2 students.

With the third arc titled “Yokohama Disturbance”, a few of the students of Private Magic University Affiliated High School will be taking part in another important event known as the “Magic Thesis Competition” and the students must produce an applicable material before their deadline.

But as Tatsuya is enlisted by his step mother to replicate a relic that can change magic history, other adversaries are trying to steal it.


VIDEO:

“The irregular at magic high school” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Madhouse has done a wonderful job with this animated TV series. Where a lot of TV series don’t get the special treatment of excessive background art or attention to detail (due to deadlines and budget), it’s evident that a lot of time is put into the creation of “The irregular at magic high school”.

Characters are well-shaded with attention to detail on the characters faces, clothing but the background art is heavily detailed.

The color palette is vibrant, I saw no major banding issues or artifacts. If anything, “The irregular at magic high school” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

While I wish that the lossless audio for “The irregular at magic high school”, like most TV series released in Japan, they are presented in stereo and the same can be said for the lossless audio on the Blu-ray release. The lossless audio is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo but dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels. Although for those with receivers that can pump out audio on all channels, then you should be fine with that if you want something a bit more immersive. It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs on this Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Ending 2, Ver. 1 and Ver. 2
  • Get to Know Magic Studies! #06-#07 – Featuring SD versions of the characters in three minute segments (typically shown after an episode in Japan).

EXTRAS:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” comes with a Blu-ray slipcase, three collectible pin-ups illustrated by Kana Ishida (character designer) and a special 20-page booklet with episode synopsis and more.


In my previous reviews of “The irregular at magic high school”, I feel that I have complimented the series when it comes to visual design and storytelling.

From the anime series beginnings of featuring Tatsuya as a mystery underdog in a high school that looked down upon him, because he was not in the top class, part of the enjoyment was seeing him grow as a student but also proving others wrong with his mysterious abilities.

Volume 3 of “The irregular at magic high school” finally features the truth about Tatsuya Shiba and also the importance of Miyuki Shiba during a tough time as the students are attacked by armed assailants.

While previous arcs have been action-packed, “Yokohama Disturbance” becomes more serious and deadly and even various characters get injured severely at some point.

For those who love the action of the series, you won’t be disappointed by these final episodes of the series.  Featuring many of the characters working together to defeat their adversaries, it’s no doubt an action-packed arc.

Meanwhile, for those who enjoyed the more school-driven, underdog Tatsuya storyline, the series has gone beyond that and has identified Tatsuya as anything but an underdog.

And you can see a bit of Tatsuya’s power unleashed in the final episodes.

But with how the series ends overall, the question is how will the series continue and will it continue to follow the light novel series.  Time will tell.

As for the Blu-ray release, I love the fact that MADHOUSE went all out in giving a vibrant, colorful presentation for this TV series. Most TV series don’t receive this much love, but the studio went all out in making sure the background art, structures and character design were done very well.

Lossless audio is Linear PCM Stereo and the voice acting is fantastic. It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release does not include English dubs.

As usual with Aniplex product Blu-ray set releases, you can expect swag and in this case, you get a special booklet and collectible pin-up cards.

Overall, “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” Blu-ray release features an action-packed conclusion to the first season and the mystery revolving around Tatsuya and Miyuki are finally revealed.

Action-packed and full of excitement, “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray review)

November 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

wannabe

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s:” is a mature anime series for those who love wrestling, idol groups and fan service galore.  But while the series is no doubt targeted for men who love sexy fan service, the story of an idol-turned-wrestler was quite enjoyable and made the anime series worth watching.

Image courtesy of © ESE/Project SekaiTsuyo Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: 12 Episodes (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATING: TV MA

Release Date: June 2, 2015


Originally Created by ESE

Directed by Rion Kujo

Series Composition by Kazuho Hyodo

Music by Kayo Konishi, Yukio Kondoo

Character Design by Rin-Sin

Art Director: Minoru Maeda

Anime Production: ARMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayana Taketatsu/Elizabeth Lewis as Sakura Hagiwara

Kana Asumi/Monica Rial as Elena Miyazawa

Chiaki Takahashi/Lydia Mackay as Jackal Tōjō

Eri Kitamura/Vanessa DeSilvio as Makoto Kirishima

Haruka Tomatsu/Martha Harms as Rio Kazama

Hisako Kanemoto/Cristina Vee as Moe Fukuoka

Kana Hanazawa/Megan Shipman as Juri Sanada

Kyōko Narumi/Leah Clark as Misaki Toyoda

Miku Itō/Didi Duron as Yūho Mochizuki

Rina Satou/Bryn Apprill as Kanae Fujishita

Sora Amamiya/Kristin Sutton as Aika Hayase

Sora Tokui/Elizabeth Evans as Hornet

Sumire Uesaka/Morgan Garrett as Kurea Komiyama

Suzuko Mimori/Anastasia Munoz as Chinatsu Suzumoto

Yuka Ōtsubo/Michelle Lee as Nanami Kanno

Ayahi Takagaki/Heather Walker as Yunbo Yamamoto

Fumihiko Tachiki/David Thompson as Seiichi Inoba

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Greg Ayres as Chairman (Sakura Hagiwara Fan Club President)

Yoshiko/Alex Moore as Yoshiko


The eye-popping world of women’s professional wrestling is sweaty, sadistic, and savagely sexy. Famous Japanese pop idol Sakura Hagiwara is better suited for the dance floor than the wrestling ring, but this ravishing songstress is about to put her body to the ultimate test.

When she and fellow idol Elena are assigned to pose as wrestlers for a very special show, a vicious lady brawler by the name of Rio decides to teach the girls a lesson they won’t soon forget. Rio unleashes a flurry of ferocious of attacks on Elena, contorting her divine female form into an array of very naughty positions. Shocked by the blush-inducing beating taken by her friend, Sakura vows to get her heavenly curves ready to rumble and redeem the good name of idols everywhere by becoming a bona fide diva of the pro-wrestling world!


Back in 2013, the anime adaptation of “Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!” produced by ARMS Corporation and directed by Rion Kujo (“Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero”, “Love Doll”) and a screnplay by Kazuho Kyodo (“Mobile Suit Gundam AGE”, “Robot Girls”, “Bakegyamon”) aired on television.

Based on the manga series by ESE and Kiyohito Natsuki, the series was released on Blu-ray + DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

Sakura Hagiwara is the leader and center of the idol group, Sweet Diva.

Having won the center position four straight times, Sakura’s friend and teammate Elena Miyazawa has always been inspired to work harder to someday become center.

As the group becomes popular, the group has received a request to participate in a TV special in which the idols take part in a wrestling match.  Sakura enlists herself, which Elena follows.

But as Sakura and Elena head to Berserk Gym, they begin their training and are insulted by wrestler Rio Kazama who tells them that idols should not be in the ring as they are not atheletes.  As Elena takes on Rio, Rio easily beats on Elena, prompting Sakura to challenge Rio in a wrestling match for the TV special.  The loser will get their hair cut off.

As Sakura and Rio get into the televised wrestling match, she is instantly defeated, humiliated and her long hair is cut.

Disappointed and embarrassed by her loss, she and Sweet Diva are further shamed by Rio.  Upset, Sakura issues Rio another challenge for a rematch and will train to be as a wrestler in order to take on Rio in their rematch.  This leaves Elena being the temporary leader/center of Sweet Diva.

As idol singer Sakura prepares her training for pro wrestling, she must overcome all the pain and train with all her might in order to prepare for her rematch.


 

VIDEO:

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The animation focuses on closeups and most of the frames are primarily of fan service quality or in relation to wrestling.  Character designs are good, shading is well-done.  Background art is primarily not utilized as much as they are just solid walls and basic paint jobs, most of the focus by ARMS is Sakura or her rival’s facial expressions during a wrestling match or often showcasing their boobs or crotch area.

Overall, picture quality is vibrant, colorful and saw no major banding or artifact problems during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Voice acting for both Japanese and English are done very well.  The series pretty much lies on the shoulder of Ayana Taketatsu and Elizabeth Lewis’ shoulders as the character Sakura Hagiwara is put into grueling training sessions and the voice actresses have to showcase their character in intense pain and varying emotional high and lows.

The series is primarily dialogue and music driven but there is good use of ambiance for the audience in the wrestling hall.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” Blu-ray also comes with the following:

  • Episode 01 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Elizabeth Lewis and Martha Harms and also featuring comments from other voice actresses participating on a “FUNimation Fight Night – Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! Round 1”.
  • Episode 07 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Leah Clark and Lydia Mackay and also featuring comments from other voice actresses participating on a”FUNimation Fight Night – Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! Round 2″.
  • OVA’s – (23:59)Featuring six mature-themed OVA’s.
  • Textless Opening Song “Beautiful Dreamer”
  • Textless Closing Song “Fan Fanfare!!!”
  • U.S. Trailer

EXTRAS:

Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” come with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


Back when I was just starting off in college, myself and a group of friends would watch GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling).

The wrestling focused on sexy female wrestlers who looked different than the female wrestler shown on other wrestling shows.  And as they engaged in wrestling and suffice to say, for college kids, we were captivated each weekend.  Suffice to say GLOW, found a way to captivate an audience by combining sex and wrestling.

A lot has changed since then, as the WWE has been focusing on sexy wrestlers but also honing on those with wrestling talent and audiences are still captivated.

Meanwhile, in Japan, variety shows experiment with having popular idols take on pro female wrestlers and interject a mix of comedy, these specials tend to be a big hit among viewers.

Watching the anime series “Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!”, which is an adaptation of ESE’s manga series, he had no doubt has found a way to bring the sexy and wrestling and make a mature series.

The concept is popular in Japan as mentioned, bring popular idols who wrestle against a professional female wrestler or two.  But most of the time, they are staged and we actually see the idol on television performing several moves.  But “Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!” takes the story into another direction with the idols trying to prove they can take whatever pro female wrestlers can dish.

And sure enough, the idols get their butts kicked.  But for Sweet Diva team leader Sakura Hagiwara, having always been the darling of the media and leader/center of Sweet Diva, she had been accustomed to winning, not losing.  And now, having felt the embarrassment and shame brought by female wrestler Rio, Sakura announces that she will take a break from being an idol to train as a wrestler until she can beat Rio in their rematch.

And of course, the road to training for Sakura is not going to be easy, as the wrestlers will not give her any special favors.  If she’s wanting to be a wrestler, then she’s going to have to deal with all the pain and misery, until she can finally wrestle and take care of herself.

Meanwhile, #2 member of Sweet Diva, Elena, is distraught because she is thrust to the leadership position, when she has depended so much on Sakura for guidance but also inspiration as her rival.

The anime series, while very good (if you enjoy pro wrestling and Japanese idol groups), is mature.  There is a lot of nudity and of course, the usual fan service of Sweet Diva girls wanting to feel up on Sakura because she is well-endowed or the numerous closeups focused on a wrestler’s breast or crotch throughout a matchup.

But for those who love fan service, will no doubt get a lot of it in this series and even moreso in the included short OVA’s.

Picture quality is quite vibrant and I saw problems with artifacts or banding.  The lossless audio is dialogue and musically-driven but I have to say that the voice acting on both the English and Japanese soundtracks were fantastic.  Both Ayana Taketatsu and Elizabeth Lewis do a phenomenal job playing the main protagonist role of Sakura.

The two audio commentaries were far out as the English dub female voice actresses discuss a real fight that took place in their life involving them and some of the stories were quite wild and crazy.

And as mentioned, you get the six short OVA’s and even more nudity is featured.

Overall, “Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s:” is a mature anime series for those who love wrestling, idol groups and fan service galore.  But while the series is no doubt targeted for men who love sexy fan service, the story of an idol-turned-wrestler was quite enjoyable and made the anime series worth watching.

The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

irregular-2a

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” Blu-ray release features a storyline that gets better and better. And with this latest arc, we get to see powerful individuals from other schools take on Tatsuya, Miyuki and others from First High School, but also Tatsuya having to prepare for an unknown threat against his teammates, but most importantly, since his sister is the primary target. Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome! “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Tsutomu Sato. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition

DURATION: Episodes 8-18 (275 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and up

Release Date: September, 2015


Original Creator: Tsutomu Satou

Original Character Design by Kana Ishida

Director: Manabu Ono

Script by Yukie Sugawara

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design: Kana Ishida

Art Director: Rie Ota

Director of Photography: Yuuki Kawashita

Anime Production: MADHOUSE


Featuring the following voice talent:

Saori Hayami as Miyuki Shiba

Yūichi Nakamura as Tatsuya Shiba

Atsushi Tamaru as Mikihiko Yoshida

Ayumu Murase as Shinkurō Kichōji

Chiwa Saito as Maya Yotsuba

Haruka Tomatsu as Sayaka Mibu

Junichi Suwabe as Katsuto Jūmonji

Kana Hanazawa as Mayumi Saegusa

Koji Yusa as Zhou Gongjin

Mai Nakahara as Suzune Ichihara

Marina Inoue as Mari Watanabe

Ryohei Kimura as Hanzō Hattorigyōbushōjō

Saki Ogasawara as Azusa Nakajō

Sakura Tange as Haruka Ono

Saori Ōnishi as Kanon Chiyoda

Satomi Satou as Mizuki Shibata

Sōma Saitō as Kei Isori

Sora Amamiya as Honoka Mitsui

Takuma Terashima as Leonhart Saijo

Tomokazu Sugita as Takeaki Kirihara

Toru Ohkawa as Harunobu Kazama

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Masaki Ichijō

Yuiko Tatsumi as Shizuku Kitayama

Yumi Uchiyama as Erika Chiba


The seasons have turned to summer and the story enters the next chapter. The National Magic High School Goodwill Magic Game Convention (a.k.a. the “Nine Schools Competition”) is just around the corner. The young elites of all the nation’s magic high schools are ready to demonstrate their skills in the name of their pride.

Miyuki, a Course 1 student, is chosen as one of the representative athletes to compete for First High School’s prestige. Tatsuya, being a Course 2 student, knew better than anyone else that he would have no involvement in such an esteemed event as the “Nine Schools Competition.” However, to everyone’s surprise, he is actually nominated to represent First High School as the team’s engineer. It is unprecedented for a Course 2 student to compete in the tournament, and naturally the whole school is thrown into an uproar.

Students of First High School are all ready for their third consecutive victory, while the other magic high schools are not about to easily hand it over. With the students’ various expectations, the battle between the young magicians will soon begin…


The next arc known as “Nine Schools Competition” has begun for the hit anime series “The irregular at magic high school” and this time, First High School will now pit it’s best team members to participate in the inter-school sporting event.

With Tatsuya being recognized for his skills at special magic tuning, he is voted into the Engineering squad and also creates a flying CAD device.

But as the team is preparing for the “Nine Schools Competition”, someone is trying to kill the team.

Meanwhile, can the First High students defeat the Third High School team led by the talented first class magician Masaki Ichijo a.k.a. “The Crimson Prince” and Shinkuro Kichijoji “Cardinal George”?

Find out in the latest arc for “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine School Competition” available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

What is “The irregular at magic high school” about?

In 2011, Tsutomu Sato and illustrator Kana Ishida created the Japanese light novel “Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” (The irregular at magic high school).

Since then, 16 novels have been published via ASCII Media Works including five manga adaptations by Ascii Media Works and Square Enix. Including two video games and a 26-episode animated series in 2014.

The animated series was released in the United States courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first Blu-ray volume featuring the first seven episodes.

“The irregular at magic high school” is set during a time where magic has been utilized as technology for nearly a century. Those who are gifted with magical abilities can cast spells using a CAD (Casting Assistant Device) and is infused with psions, a substanceless particle and psychic phenomenon.

In the year 2095, Tatsuya Shiba and his younger sister Miyuki Shiba are enrolled at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School, where students are ranked according to their test scores. Those who rank higher in practical magic ability are put on priority and are enrolled in course 1, while those with lower practical magic test scores are enrolled in course 2.

While Tatsuya scored the highest in written/theoretical portion of the exam, he scored poorly in practical magic, so he is in course 2, while Miyuki is in course 1 because of her high scores, and also selected to be the first year representative because of her high ranking score on the exam.

Miyuki is overprotective of her brother and has a little crush on him as well. So, it hurts her when she sees him being picked on because he is in Course 2 (the Course 1 students look at Course 2 students as “weeds”).

But because Tatsuya undergoes shinobi training, his fighting skills are top-notched.

At school, the two befriend Course 2’s Erika Chiba (the youngest daughter of the Chiba Family, known for their swordsmanship), Course 2’s Mizuki Shibata (has the ability to see Spirit Particle emissions) and Course 2’s Leonhard Saijo (his grandfather was a German Fortress Series magician).

One day, Tatsuya and his friends are bullied by Course 1 students and despite Miyuki being angered by her classmates, Tatsuya tries to calm her down and take in the bullying. But when one challenges Tatsuya to a fight, his skills catch the attention of the Student Council and Public Morals Committee because of his ability to read activation sequences in real time.

Tatsuya becomes the first Course 2 student to be nominated in the Public Morals committee (also to help diffuse the prejudice against Course 2 students).

As a representative of the Public Morals Committee at the high school, Tatsuya must now enforce the law in school, meanwhile having to deal with Course 1 students prejudice towards Course 2 students.

As the first arc was featured in the first volume, the second volume features the “Nine Schools Competition” arc and both Tatsuya and his sister Miyuki will be among the few competitors to face off against other top tier teams from different high schools.

But as the two prepare for the challenges await them, outside of the school is an organization that is intent of destroying First High School’s chance of winning, but most importantly, targeting Miyuki for death.


VIDEO:

“The irregular at magic high school” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Madhouse has done a wonderful job with this animated TV series. Where a lot of TV series don’t get the special treatment of excessive background art or attention to detail (due to deadlines and budget), it’s evident that a lot of time is put into the creation of “The irregular at magic high school”.

Characters are well-shaded with attention to detail on the characters faces, clothing but the background art is heavily detailed.

The color palette is vibrant, I saw no major banding issues or artifacts. If anything, “The irregular at magic high school” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

While I wish that the lossless audio for “The irregular at magic high school”, like most TV series released in Japan, they are presented in stereo and the same can be said for the lossless audio on the Blu-ray release. The lossless audio is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo but dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels. Although for those with receivers that can pump out audio on all channels, then you should be fine with that if you want something a bit more immersive. It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs on this Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” comes with the Get to Know Magic Studies! Shorts #4-5, Textless Opening 2, Textless Ending 1.

EXTRAS:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” comes with a Blu-ray slipcase, four collectible pin-ups illustrated by Kana Ishida (character designer) and a special 24-page booklet with episode synopsis and more.


irregular-2b

Possibly one of the better anime series to be released on Blu-ray in 2015 for North America, for anime fans clamoring for something original, exciting and entertaining, will no doubt enjoy MADHOUSE’s “The irregular at magic high school”.

Where the series could have gone the banal route of students going against the government storyline, what we have is a school in which magic users are divided into different courses and leads to a somewhat difficult environment as the Course 1 students look at themselves as elite and the Course 2 students are nothing but “weeds”.

That is until Tatsuya Shiba enrolls with his sister to the Magic University Affiliated High School and with his calm demeanor, you realized that despite failing his practical magic exam, he’s not a person to look down upon because chances are, he can easily take on and defeat a Course 1 student.

And now with this latest “Nine Schools Competition” arc, a lot of things have changed for Tatsuya.  Despite being popular with a few of his female friends that are starting to take a liking towards him (and he still remains emotionless and naive), but we get to learn more about Tatsuya and what he does behind-the-scenes and the people he interacts with, especially his relationship with his father.

But we also get to see how his fellow students starting to suspect him of being more than a Course 2 student.

But with this latest arc, the action is elevated as the schools must compete in the “Nine Schools Competition”.  Competition is risky and challenging and for the guys, they know that they must face their most difficult opponent yet, the Third High School team led by the talented first class magician Masaki Ichijo a.k.a. “The Crimson Prince” and Shinkuro Kichijoji “Cardinal George”.

Ichijo is the eldest son and the future head of the Ichijo family, one of the Ten Master Clans and also has a crush on Miyuki, so his goal to defeat Tatsuya is even greater.

But as these two pose a great challenge to First High School, the true threat is unknown as someone is trying to kill the First High School Team, primarily Miyuki for some reason.  And Tatsuya, who has his eyes on the competition, also has his eyes out for any potential threat on his sister’s life and his teammates.

As for the Blu-ray release, I love the fact that MADHOUSE went all out in giving a vibrant, colorful presentation for this TV series. Most TV series don’t receive this much love, but the studio went all out in making sure the background art, structures and character design were done very well. Lossless audio is Linear PCM Stereo and the voice acting is fantastic. It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release does not include English dubs.

And as usual with Aniplex product Blu-ray set releases, you can expect swag and in this case, you get a special booklet and collectible pin-up cards.

Overall, “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” Blu-ray release features a storyline that gets better and better.  And with this latest arc, we get to see powerful individuals from other schools take on Tatsuya, Miyuki and others from First High School, but also Tatsuya having to prepare for an unknown threat against his teammates, but most importantly, since his sister is the primary target.

Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome! “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

irregular-a

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” Blu-ray release is one of the awesome anime on Blu-ray releases I have seen in 2015. Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome! “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Tsutomu Sato. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment

DURATION: Episodes 1-7 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and up

Release Date: June 30, 2015


Original Creator: Tsutomu Satou

Original Character Design by Kana Ishida

Director: Manabu Ono

Script by Yukie Sugawara

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design: Kana Ishida

Art Director: Rie Ota

Director of Photography: Yuuki Kawashita

Anime Production: MADHOUSE


Featuring the following voice talent:

Saori Hayami as Miyuki Shiba

Yūichi Nakamura as Tatsuya Shiba

Atsushi Tamaru as Mikihiko Yoshida

Ayumu Murase as Shinkurō Kichōji

Chiwa Saito as Maya Yotsuba

Haruka Tomatsu as Sayaka Mibu

Junichi Suwabe as Katsuto Jūmonji

Kana Hanazawa as Mayumi Saegusa

Koji Yusa as Zhou Gongjin

Mai Nakahara as Suzune Ichihara

Marina Inoue as Mari Watanabe

Ryohei Kimura as Hanzō Hattorigyōbushōjō

Saki Ogasawara as Azusa Nakajō
Sakura Tange as Haruka Ono

Saori Ōnishi as Kanon Chiyoda

Satomi Satou as Mizuki Shibata

Sōma Saitō as Kei Isori

Sora Amamiya as Honoka Mitsui

Takuma Terashima as Leonhart Saijo

Tomokazu Sugita as Takeaki Kirihara

Toru Ohkawa as Harunobu Kazama

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Masaki Ichijō

Yuiko Tatsumi as Shizuku Kitayama

Yumi Uchiyama as Erika Chiba

 


Magic – a century has passed since this concept has been recognized as a formal technology instead of the product of the occult or mere folklore. The season is spring and it is time for a brand new school year.

At the National Magic University First Affiliate High School, A.K.A Magic High School, students are divided into two distinct groups according to their academic performances. The “Blooms,” who demonstrate the highest grades, are enrolled in the “First Course,” and the “Weeds,” who have a poor academic record, are enrolled in the “Second Course.”

This spring, a very peculiar brother and sister enroll as new students. The brother is an underachiever with some deficiencies and enrolls as a “Weed,” while his younger sister is an honor student, who enrolls as a “Bloom.” The brother with a somewhat philosophical disposition and the younger sister who holds feelings a little stronger than sibling love for him… Ever since these two entered through the gates of this prestigious school, the calm campus began to change…


In 2011, Tsutomu Sato and illustrator Kana Ishida created the Japanese light novel “Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” (The irregular at magic high school).

Since then, 16 novels have been published via ASCII Media Works including five manga adaptations by Ascii Media Works and Square Enix.  Including two video games and a 26-episode animated series in 2014.

The animated series was released in the United States courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first Blu-ray volume featuring the first seven episodes.

“The irregular at magic high school” is set during a time where magic has been utilized as technology for nearly a century.  Those who are gifted with magical abilities can cast spells using a CAD (Casting Assistant Device) and is infused with psions, a substanceless particle and psychic phenomenon.

In the year 2095, Tatsuya Shiba and his younger sister Miyuki Shiba are enrolled at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School, where students are ranked according to their test scores.  Those who rank higher in practical magic ability are put on priority and are enrolled in course 1, while those with lower practical magic test scores are enrolled in course 2.

While Tatsuya scored the highest in written/theoretical portion of the exam, he scored poorly in practical magic, so he is in course 2, while Miyuki is in course 1 because of her high scores, and also selected to be the first year representative because of her high ranking score on the exam.

Miyuki is overprotective of her brother and has a little crush on him as well.  So, it hurts her when she sees him being picked on because he is in Course 2 (the Course 1 students look at Course 2 students as “weeds”).

But because Tatsuya undergoes shinobi training, his fighting skills are top-notched.

At school, the two befriend Course 2’s Erika Chiba (the youngest daughter of the Chiba Family, known for their swordsmanship), Course 2’s Mizuki Shibata (has the ability to see Spirit Particle emissions) and Course 2’s Leonhard Saijo (his grandfather was a German Fortress Series magician).

One day, Tatsuya and his friends are bullied by Course 1 students and despite Miyuki being angered by her classmates, Tatsuya tries to calm her down and take in the bullying.  But when one challenges Tatsuya to a fight, his skills catch the attention of the Student Council and Public Morals Committee because of his ability to read activation sequences in real time.

Tatsuya becomes the first Course 2 student to be nominated in the Public Morals committee (also to help diffuse the prejudice against Course 2 students).

As a representative of the Public Morals Committee at the high school, Tatsuya must now enforce the law in school but also diffuse a terrorist attack on the school.


VIDEO:

“The irregular at magic high school” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Madhouse has done a wonderful job with this animated TV series.  Where a lot of TV series don’t get the special treatment of excessive background art or attention to detail (due to deadlines and budget), it’s evident that a lot of time is put into the creation of “The irregular at magic high school”.

Characters are well-shaded with attention to detail on the characters faces, clothing but the background art is heavily detailed.

The color palette is vibrant, I saw no major banding issues or artifacts.  If anything, “The irregular at magic high school” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

While I wish that the lossless audio for “The irregular at magic high school”, like most TV series released in Japan, they are presented in stereo and the same can be said for the lossless audio on the Blu-ray release.  The lossless audio is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo but dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels.  Although for those with receivers that can pump out audio on all channels, then you should be fine with that if you want something a bit more immersive.  It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs on this Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” comes with a textless opening, three three-minute “Get to Know Magic Studies!” featuring the characters in SD format.  Also, included are the Japanese trailers and commercials.

EXTRAS:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” comes with a Blu-ray slipcase and three collectable pin-ups illustrated by Kana Ishida (character designer) and a 24-page special booklet with episode synopsis and Q&A with creator Tsutomu Sato answers technical questions from fans of the series.


irregular-b

Possibly one of the better anime series to be released on Blu-ray in 2015 for North America, for anime fans clamoring for something original, exciting and entertaining, will no doubt enjoy MADHOUSE’s “The irregular at magic high school”.

Where the series could have gone the banal route of students going against the government storyline, what we have is a school in which magic users are divided into different courses and leads to a somewhat difficult environment as the Course 1 students look at themselves as elite and the Course 2 students are nothing but “weeds”.

That is until Tatsuya Shiba enrolls with his sister to the Magic University Affiliated High School and with his calm demeanor, you realized that despite failing his practical magic exam, he’s not a person to look down upon because chances are, he can easily take on and defeat a Course 1 student.

While the first volume establishes the characters, Tatsuya’s powers (as well as other powers for the supporting cast members), we are shown how the divide between Course 1 and Course 2 students have escalated.  But most importantly, there is something about the protagonist, Tatsuya Shiba that no one knows about.

So, there is an interesting build up in the storyline as each episode gets better and better and I was absolutely captivated with this series and really felt it was one of the best anime series I have seen released on Blu-ray in 2015.

As for the Blu-ray release, I love the fact that MADHOUSE went all out in giving a vibrant, colorful presentation for this TV series.  Most TV series don’t receive this much love, but the studio went all out in making sure the background art, structures and character design were done very well.  Lossless audio is Linear PCM Stereo and the voice acting is fantastic.  It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release does not include English dubs.

And as usual with Aniplex product Blu-ray set releases, you can expect swag and in this case, you get a special booklet and collectable pin-up cards.

Overall, “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” Blu-ray release is one of the awesome anime on Blu-ray releases I have seen in 2015.

Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome!  “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

July 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

magi-km2a

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” is a fantastic, action-packed conclusion to the second season and I can’t wait for a third season! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Shinobu Ohtaka/SHOGAKUKAN, Magi Committee, MBS. All rights reserved.


DVD TITLE: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2

TV SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 14-25 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 widescreen, Japanese Stereo and English Dolby Digital 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: 13 and up

RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2015


Originally Created by Shinobu Ohtaka

Directed by Koji Masunari

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Erica Mendez as Aladdin

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Alibaba Saluja

Haruka Tomatsu/Cristina Vee as Morgiana

Darrel Guilbeau/Kensho Ono as Ren Hakuryu

Julie Ann Taylor/Asami Seto as Seishun Li

Keith Silverstein/Yoshimasa Hosoya as Masrur

Kira Buckland/Kana Hanazawa as Ren Kogyuku

Lucien Dodge.Takahiro Sakurai as Ja’far

Marc Diraison/Shinichiro Miki as Ithnan

Matthew Mercer/Daisuke Ono as Sinbad

Patrick Seitz/Toshiyuki Morikawa as Ugo

Sean Chiplock/Jun Fukuyama as Cassim

Todd Haberkorn/Ryohei Kimura as Judal

Trinity Lee/Nana Mizuki as Ren Hakuei

Vic Mignogna/Kenichi Suzumura as Ka Kobun


In their second year at the Academy, Aladdin, Titus, and Sphintus are granted Second Class Citizenship in Magnoshutatt and are allowed to venture outside of the campus. There, the group witnesses the harsh realities of racial inequalities and discrimination among the magicians and the humans. Even though Aladdin is shocked to learn the bitter history between the two races that acted as a catalyst for these prejudices, he is unable to agree with the Academy’s Director Mogamett’s vision of building a “country solely for magicians.” Aladdin also concludes that the magicians at Magnoshutatt are somehow connected to Dark Magic after coming into contact with the black rukh in his class. After learning that Titus defected to Magnoshutatt, the Leam Empire finally declares war. With the powerful Fanalis Corp. leading the attack, the Leam military begins its invasion! As Aladdin stands between the two nations to stop them with his powers as a Magi, some familiar faces come to his aid! Now with even the Kou Empire entering the war, countless black rukh cover the skies. The clash of nations may be just the beginning of the end of this world! Contains episodes 14-25 plus a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.


A year has passed and Aladdin continues his training at the Academy with other magicians.

Having made friends with Titus and Sphintus, Aladdin and friends learn that the Academy’s Director Mogamett has a goal to build a country only for magicians, but because Mogamett’s feelings towards non-magicians, the Director may be preparing to start a war.

Can Aladdin protect his friends and the innocent people who are drawn into the war?

Find out in “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2”.

What is “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” about?

When it comes to opportunities of becoming a manga writer/artist (mangaka), Shinobu Ohtaka’s story.

She has written about her story of how she became a manga artist, as a person who was the person who would sit quietly in the corner of class and was not really great at anything and often playing a supporting role. But if there was one thing that she was confident in, it was drawing pictures.

And now this shy artist would not only have a hit manga but also anime series!

Her first year in high school, she was submitting manga manuscripts because it was her dream to become a manga author. And like many writers, her submissions were denied and this continued through high school and college. And when she was about to call it quits, she was given the opportunity to do a one-shot and it led to the creation of the series “Sumomo Momomo” in 2004 which would eventually become 22 volume manga series and also a 22-episode anime series.

After completing “Sumomo Momomo”, Shinobu then created “Magi” which would be serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 2009 and to this day, the series is till ongoing (currently, at 18 volumes) and a 25-episode anime adaptation which was aired in Japan in Oct. 2012 – March 2013 and a 25-episode second season which was completed in Japan.

And now episodes 1-13 of the second season of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” was released on DVD in the United States courtesy of Aniplex in March 2015.

In the second season of the series, the story takes place after Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu have defeated the dungeon.

But with Aladdin wanting to leave and go on his own adventure in order to grow stronger and study magic, the others realize they need to get stronger too and each go on their own direction.

For Aladdin, he knows he must learn how to master his magic and find out what kind of magic he can take control of. But needs to learn the power behind the “Abnormalities of the World”. He comes across a mysterious prodigy from Lea named Titus Alexius. But who is this man?

Alibaba must get stronger, so he decides to challenge the gladiators of the coliseum but he learns that he has two magoi in his body that may tear his insides apart.

Meanwhile, Morgiana goes back to her home of Katarg but is told that if she goes to other side of the mountain, she will be unable to come back to the other side.

As Hyakuren goes back to the Kou Empire in hopes that he will be the new leader but someone else has been assigned as leader.

In the second half of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”, Aladdin continues his training at the Academy but the Academy’s Director has his own plans of what he is expecting from the magician’s and that is all out war against non-magicians.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and Japanese and English Dolby Digital 2.0.

While I was hoping for a Blu-ray release of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic”, the series is well-animated, well-shaded and tends to feature hilarious character designs during the more comedy scenes, while showcasing emotion and drama during the most serious situations. Action scenes are well-animated, background art is well-detailed and painted beautifully.

Audio on the DVD is front-channel driven but voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Dialogue, sound effects and music are clear.

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” comes with a slipcase, a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.


 

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With the second season of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”, we get a whole season dedicated to the training and growth of each of four individuals: Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu for the first half.

But the storyline for the second half focuses on Aladdin and his year-long training at a magician’s academy, growing in power, learning about magic but also preparing for a major war in the Kou Empire as true evil has descended in the land.

As episodes 13-16 focuses on Aladdin’s training, by episode 17, war begins as what begins as a major battle between nations, grows to a major battle against a monster that drains all White Rukh.

But what I enjoyed about this second half of season two is the focus on Aladdin and seeing him grow.  He’s come such a long way since we first saw him and now he’s taller, he’s braver and he’s starting to get a better grasp of what is important to him but also what he wants to fight against.

I know my summary is quite vague but in truth, I really don’t want to spoil or even mentioned in the second half, who appears because the battles are intense and the storyline is quite appealing that it no doubt sets up for even more stories in the future.   Expect to see a few surprises, especially for the viewer who have followed the series for so long.  And especially in the final minutes of episode 5, which I never saw coming!

While I wish “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” received a Blu-ray release, the DVD still looks very good. And the voice acting for both English and Japanese soundtracks are well-done!

The DVD may not have any significant special features but for those who have purchased Aniplex products know by now, the company is known for providing swag. In this case, you get a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.

Overall, “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” is a fantastic, action-packed conclusion to the second season and I can’t wait for a third season!

Recommended!

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