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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.


 

magi-km2b

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!

Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

magi-km1a

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1” is a fantastic, action-packed anime series! For now, it kicks off the solo adventures of Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu but no doubt is building to something even bigger. 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. 1

TV SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 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 order to realize their objectives, the adventurers each embark on a new journey. Aladdin sets his sights on the land of Magnoshutatt to study magic while Alibaba travels to the Leam Empire to challenge the gladiators of the coliseum. Morgiana sets sail towards her homeland of Katarg, and Hakuryu returns to the Kou Empire…

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

Meanwhile, the royal family of the Kou Empire is in mourning for their Emperor’s passing, and is shocked when the throne is passed on to someone they had not expected. An ominous cloud looms over the Empire as the flames of revenge burned within Hakuryu. The Magi of the Leam Empire, Scheherazade, also senses this threat from across the sea and grows concerned for her people.

Back in Magnoshutatt, Aladdin is hard at training at the academy when he meets Titus Alexius, a prodigy from Leam. But then Aladdin realizes that Titus is also equipped with the same charm that he has! What is Titus’s true identity!?

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 DVD Set Vol. 1”.

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.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1” 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. 1” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1” comes with a slipcase, a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.


 

magi-km1b

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.

As Aladdin’s storyline, we get to see Aladdin grow in his study of magic.  And while we expect the character to grow and become powerful, Aladdin is the one that is most interesting.

Mainly because he arrives to his destination, looking as if he was homeless and malnourished.  With that being said, his story is the most bloody and violent as he must take on gladiators at the Colosseum and must deal with his powers, that may tear his body apart.

Morgiana’s storyline is no doubt fraught with danger but it’s her naivety that may put her in deeper trouble.

And as we expect the primary three characters to learn and grow, the most troubling would be Hakuryu.  With the first season, he was the whiner and the cry baby but by the second season, after finding his true power, we learn that he has had a twisted upbringing.  But somehow he has changed to another person that is more darker and not happy as before.  He is the question mark of the entire crew because of his unpredictability and the way he is behaving, not sure if he’ll be friend or enemy.

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.  Also, you can expect to see Aladdin’s attraction to women with large boobs.

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. 1” is a fantastic, action-packed anime series! For now, it kicks off the solo adventures of Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu but no doubt is building to something even bigger.

Recommended!

Sword Art Online: Extra Edition (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray review)

January 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

soa-extra

“Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” is worth purchasing if you are a fan of “Sword Art Online” but also are wanting to see a new storyline and new scenes. And of course, the new bikini fan service included as well! So, if you are wanting more SAO until the release of the “Sword Art Online II”, then “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © REKI KAWAHARA/ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sword Art Online: Extra Edition

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: 100 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

Release Date: December 23, 2014


Originally Created by Reki Kawahara

Directed by Tomohiki Ito

Screenplay by Reki Kawahara

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima, Yusuke Takeda

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook as Kirito

Haruka Tomatsu/Cherami Leigh as Asuna

Kanae Itō as Yui

Kouichi Yamadera as Akihiko Kayaba

Ayahi Takagaki/Sarah Anne Williams as Lisbeth

Ayahi Takagaki as Rika Shinozaki

Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Lee Morris as Leafa

Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Lee as Suguha Kirigaya

Hiroaki Hirata/Kirk Thornton as Klein

Hiroki Yasumoto/Patrick Seitz as Agil/Andrew Gilbert Mills

Rina Hidaka as Silica

Saori Hayami/Xanthe Huynh as Sachi

Takehito Koyasu as Nobuyuki Sugō/Oberon

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Seijiro Kikuoka


On a hot summer day, Kazuto (Kirito) takes Suguha (Leafa) to his school, to meet Asuna, Keiko (Silica) and Rika (Lisbeth). Their mission: teach Suguha how to swim. Kazuto, however, has a prior commitment to see Seijiro Kikuoka, an officer with the Virtual Reality Section of the Department of General Affairs. Kikuoka wants to go over Kazuto’s recollection of his time in SAO and ALO, to resolve some unanswered questions.

Later in ALO, Kirito and the girls (along with Klein and Agil), embark on an underwater quest to show Yui her very first whale. But the deeper down they go, the more mysterious the quest becomes…


On New Year’s Eve 2013, “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” aired on television in Japan and then worldwide two ours later.

Extra Edition is set before the events of “Sword Art Online II” and takes place two years after the first season.

While the majority of Extra Edition recaps the first season, new scenes are also added and how Kazuto and friends are now playing an undersea quest on ALfheim Online.  But what happens when he and their friends get-together online?

Find out in “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

“What is Sword Art Online”?

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 winning the Grand Prize in 2008, the popularity of “Accel World” would lead to “Sword Art Online” being republished and featuring the art work of 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 five manga adaptations (“Sword Art Online: Aincrad”, “4-koma”, “Fairy Dance”, “Girls Ops” and “Progressive”). The anime series produced by A-1 Pictures was released in Japan between July and December 2012 and airing on Adult Swim’s Toonami in July 27, 2013.

A video game series was released in Japan for the Sony PSP and now, “Sword Art Online: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set 1” (featuring the first seven episodes) will be released in North America courtesy of Aniplex of America on August 2013.

The anime series was directed by Tomohiko Ito (“Occult Academ”, “Silver Spoon”), featuring music by Yuki Kajiura (“.hack” series, “Eat-Man”, “My-HIME”, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Noir”, “Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE”), character design by Shingo Adachi (“Megaman Star Force”, “Rockman.EXE Beat”) and Art Direction by Takayuki Nagashima (“Durarara!!”, “Real Drive”, “Steins;Gate”) and Yusuke Takeda (“Berserk” films, “Armitage III”, “009-1”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Golden Boy”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing”, etc.).

“Sword Art Online” 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. And so far, people in the real world have died by having their Nerve Gear removed.

Having beaten “Sword Art Online”, 300 players including Asuna have not waken up from SAO for some reason. But when he receives a tip that Asuna was seen in the game “Alfheim Online” (ALO), locked inside a cage, Kazuto (Kirito online) is determined to free and rescue her.

He ends up joining with Leafa in “Alfheim Online”, not knowing that her true identity is Suguha Kirigaya, his cousin. And for Suguha, after she learned that Kazuto was not her real brother, she has developed feelings for him but knows that he is in love with someone else. Meanwhile, she has been playing “Alfheim Online” and has teamed up with a player named Kirito and joins him online, not knowing that Kirito is Kazuto in real life.

Alongside with Yui (an artificial intelligence program in “Sword Art Online” who looks at Kirito and Asuna as her father and mother), who is also a support character in “Alfheim Online”. The three work together, taking on new antagonists in “Alfheim Online” but most importantly, Kirito tries to find a way to save the person he truly loves!

With “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition”, the special takes place two years after the events as featured in season one of “Sword Art Online”.

As Kazuto needs to go to emergency counseling meeting, Suguha, Asuna, Rika and Keiko go swimming at school.

When Kazuto arrives and thinks he is meeting with a counselor, he realizes that Kikuoka Seijirou is waiting for him and to interview him more in-depth about the events that happened in Sword Art Online and why Kayaba Akihiko created the online world and trapped people inside.  And thus, Kazuto explains to him of what happened when he first arrived and then what happened on Alfheim Online.

Meanwhile, the girls discuss their experiences and how Kazuto changed their lives.

Afterward, Kazuto and friends head back into ALfheim Online take on a quest where they can see whales and head towards Thule Island.    While swimming underwater, they meet an NPC (non-playable character) named Nerakk, who explains to them that thieves have stolen a pearl from him.  As everyone wants to help the old man, Leafa is suspicious of him as the name sounds familiar.


The main characters featured in “Sword Art Online” are:

  • Kirito/Kazuto Kirigaya – The main protagonist of the series. The solo player who saved thousands in the game “Sword Art Online” and was romantically involved with Asuna in SAO, after seeing a picture of Asuna locked in a cage in the VRMMORPG “Alfheim Online” (ALO), Kirito is determined of rescuing her.
  • Leafa/Suguha Kirigaya – Suguha is Kazuto’s cousin who has feelings for him. She is very good at kendo but also plays “Alfheim Online” as the character Leifa. Not knowing that Kirito is Kazuto, the two join forces in “Alfheim Online”.
  • Yui – The artificial intelligence program from “Sword Art Online” which is a young girl who was taken in by Kirito and Asuna as their daughter. Yui tries to help Kirito in finding Asuna.
  • Asuna Yuki – A person who fought alongside Kirito and has fallen in love with him in the game. She is being kept alive by technology used for ALO but is being held against her will inside the game by Nobuyuki Sugou.
  • Agil/Andrew Gilbert Mills – The axe wielder in SAO, he runs a shop known as “Dicey Cafe” and a location for Kazuto and friends in the real world.

VIDEO:

“Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Because of the ever changing landscape within the Sword Art Online game, there is a good balance between well-painted buildings and interiors and also beautiful painted backgrounds for outdoor scenes. Black levels are nice and deep but its the colorful palette and the beautiful backgrounds that captivate you.

Colors are absolutely vibrant and I didn’t notice any problems with artifacts or banding during my viewing of the episodes.

You can also tell the difference between the newer footage versus the television-footage as the newer footage is much more sharper and vibrant.  But overall, “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” looks fantastic on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” is presented in English and Japanese linear PCM stereo. The voice acting for the Japanese soundtrack is solid. Both Yoshitsugi Matsuoka, Ayana Taketatsu, Haruka Tomatsu and other cast members have done a fantastic job.

With that being said, having watched the series first in Japanese, watching it with the English dub, I felt the casting was spot-on! Both Bryce Papenbrook and Cherami Leigh did an awesome job as Kirito and Asuna, as with Cassandra Morris as Leafa/Suguha. But the casting for this anime series for the English dub was fantastic. Everyone did a magnificent job with their character role.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” features the following special features:

  • Sword Art Offline – (13:46) A Short special offline edition featuring newscaster Asuna and Leafa
  • SAOII Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” Blu-ray also comes with the following:

  • 16-Page Deluxe Illustration Booklet – Each page features illustrations and interview with Character Designer/Supervising Animation Director Shingo Adachi.
  • Double-Sided Poster

soa-extra-b

For anyone who has watched Japanese animation or dramas, the “Recap” episodes are customary, especially when a new series is not far off the horizon.

And to make sure that fans who watched the original series will want to watch the special or film, new footage is added.

So, back in 2013, there was a lot of hype about “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” as the recap episode would become a transition to the new season titled “Sword Art Online II”.  And fortunately, a new storyline was added alongside the recap episode.

In “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition”, the storyline features Seijirou Kikuoka (a member of the Second Separated Advanced Network Division, Technology Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) wanting to question Kazuto about what happened when he was trapped in Sword Art Online but also what happened on ALfheim Online.

As Kazuto does his recap of what took place during his stay in the virtual world, the girls discuss how they met Kazuto and how he helped them in the Virtual World.

When the friends get together, together they take part in an undersea quest on ALFheim Online but to their surprise, trouble has come upon them once again in the virtual world.

While “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” will appeal to the fans, especially for the new storyline.  There are some who will find the recap footage to be a bit tedious, but the good news is that the recap footage is not like one full movie.  Instead you get new story/scenes spread out through the recap portion and then getting into the storyline of the friends going online for ALO for quest.

As for the Blu-ray release, the animation is vibrant and sharp and looks fantastic on Blu-ray.  The lossless soundtrack is in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo and for subtitles you get them in English and Spanish.  For special features, you get a trailer for “Sword Art Online II” but also a “Sword Art Offline” episode.

As for Aniplex swag, you get a 16-page booklet plus a two-sided poster and slipcase with artwork designed by Shingo Adachi.

Overall, “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” is worth purchasing if you are a fan of “Sword Art Online” but also are wanting to see a new storyline and new scenes. And of course, the new bikini fan service included as well! So, if you are wanting more SAO until the release of the “Sword Art Online II”, then “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition” is recommended!

Motto To Love RU – Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

mottotoloveru

If you enjoyed the first season, “Motto to Love RU” is much more wilder, crazier, perverted than ever.  Now featuring three crazy mini-stories per episode, “Motto to Love RU” ups the ante in perverted anime comedy TV series.  While not for everyone, if you are wanting something a bit more risque and perverted, this anime series is for you!

Image courtesy of © Kentaro Yabuki-Saki Hasemi/SHUEISHA, Toloveru Project. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Motto To Love RU – Complete Collection

DURATION: 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV14D

Release Date: May 27, 2014

Originally created by Kentaro Yabuki, Saki Hasemi

Directed by Atsushi Ootsuki

Series Composition by Yasutomo Yamada

Music by Takeshi Watanabe

Character Design: Yuichi Ouka

Art Director: Yoshimi Umino

Anime Production by Xebec

Featuring the following voice talent:

Akeno Watanabe as Rito Yuki

Haruka tomatsu as Lala Satalin Deviluke

Ayako Kawasumi as Saki Tenjoin

Fuyuka Oura as Ren Elsie Jewelria

Kana Hanazawa as Mikan Yuki

Ryoka Yuzuki as Lisa Momioka

Misato Fukuen as Golden Darkness

Aki Toyosaki as Peke and Momo Belia Deviluke

Sayuri Yahagi as Haruna Sairenji

Takehito Koyasu as Zastin

The insanity that began when a very naked (and very female) alien teleported into Rito Yuki’s bathtub (while he was in it) continues. And even though Princess Lala has finally started to admit her true feelings for the young man she’s inexplicably engaged to marry (as a result of what happened in said bathtub and Develuke customs), her sometimes erratic technology and the snags and snarls of intergalatic politicse and intrigue are still causing major problems.

That transporter? Yeah, it still has the nasty habit of leaving the clothes behind. Alien bounty hunters? Yep, even more of them and they’re even more devious. Add body switches, alien skunks, a bathroom that changes size and shape, the inevitable sleepover that you just know it’s going to go horribly, horribly wrong (spoiler: it does). Worst of all, there’s Valentine’s Day, and even in space you’ll be able to hear Rito scream!

In 2006, the series “To Love Ru” (which in Japanese “Toraburu” can be read as in English “Trouble”) is a manga series by Saki Hasemi (“Moetan”, “Pinky:st”) and Kentaro Yabuki (“Black Cat”, “Yamato Gensouki”) was created and is currently featured in Weekly Shonen Jump. In the spring of 2008, Studio I.G. subsidiary Xebec, Inc. (known for working on “Love Hina” and “Martian Successor Nadesico”) released a 26-episode anime series which was followed by video game releases for the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.  The first season of the anime series was released in the US courtesy of Sentai Filmworks in 2009-2010 in two DVD volumes.

In 2010, a second season titled “Motto To Love-RU”, a twelve episode series aired in Japan.  And now in May 2014, the second season will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“Motto To Love RU” is produced by Xebec but features a new creative team.   The second season is directed by Atsushi Ootsuki  (“Kanokon: The Girl Who Cried Fox”, “Wagnaria!! Season Two”) and features a screenplay by Yasutomo Yamada (“Bakegyamon”, “Boys Be…”, “Potemayo”, “Venus Versus Virus”).  Character design is by Yuichi Ouka (“Softenni”, “Over Drive”), art direction by Yoshimi Umino (“DNA2″, “Ben-To”, “.hack” series) and music by Takeshi Watanabe (“Moetan”, “Saki”, “Ichigo Mashimaro”).

The second season also is different from the first.  In the original, each episode had a full storyline but now “Motto to Love RU” features episodes with three short stories about seven minutes long.

What is “To Love RU” all about?

“To Love RU” is about a teenager named Rito Yuki. A teenage boy who has always loved his classmate Haruna Sairenji. But somehow due to unusual circumstances, by trying to save a girl named Lala (who happens to be an alien princess) and now Lala believes that Rito is in love with her and because Rito has proposed to her in Deviluke tradition (grabbing the woman’s breast and telling her that he loves her), they are now officially engaged.

Lala has made her residence at Rito’s home and expects Rito to be her husband. But Rito is in love with Sairenji, not Lala…what is a powerless, teenage boy going to do? Rito has been trying to find ways to have the marriage dissolved but finds himself getting deeper and deeper in trouble that even Lala’s father, King Deviluke expects him to marry or else Earth will be destroyed.

Now Rito finds himself caring for both Haruna and Lala but what is this young teenager going to do?

What about “Motto To Love RU”?

The second season is much different than the original series.  More adult humor, more perverted and really doesn’t get into anything serious.  If anything, the harem storyline and love triangle still exists as Sairenji and Lala both want to be closer to Rito but Rito is not so much of a major factor in this season in terms of having to save Lala.  If anything, he is more of the comic character who is typically getting involved in the wrong situation against his will and has his butt kicked by the extra terrestrials.    While the emphasis are more on the female characters as they discuss their emotions and each other’s breasts, grabbing each other’s breasts and having fun, it is more evident that this series is targeted for more the lonely otaku who love tons of fan service.  And you definitely get it with “Motto To Love Ru”.

Because there are 12 half-hour episodes (3 mini-episodes each episode, thus 26 different episodes in all), here are a few storylines that are featured in “Motto to Love RU”.

  • Yui and the discipline committee implement a demerit policy to ensure morality in school.
  • What happens when Mikan’s teacher goes to visit her home to meet her and Rito’s father (a manga creator).  Since their family has been gone for a long time, Rito must pretend to be her father.  But because he is not good at lying, Lala gives him a drink to calm him down, but instead it makes him drunk.
  • Yami wonders how it would be to wear Earth fashion, so the girls take her out on a shopping spree.
  • It’s Valentine’s Day and Yui wants to make chocolate for Rio.
  • What happens when Saki invites Rito and friends to her private beach.
  • Yami is ill and Rito tries to get her some medical help.
  • When Rito does poorly on his exam, Yami tries to help him.
  • Haruna, Sairenji and Oshizu take part in an alien process to make their breasts larger.
  • What happens when Momo accidentally transports Rito into Peke’s body.
  • What happens when Celine drinks Cola.
  • Nana and Momo get angry when she tries to sneak into Rito’s bed.
  • Which girl will Rito pick at the end?

“Motto To Love RU” features the following main characters:

Rito Yuuki – A teenager who is deeply in love with Haruna Sairenji. Not a popular guy at his high school and quite shy until he meets Lala. After saving Lala and squeezing her breasts, now he is officially engaged to her. Now Rito wants nothing but to get out of this engagement but finds himself caring for both Haruna and Lala.

Lala Satalin Deviluke – The Princess of Deviluke who ran away from home (left her planet) because she did not want to marry any of the men that her father has chosen for her to marry but when she sees Rito fighting and defending her, she falls in love with him and after he grabs her breast, by Deviluke customs, she becomes engaged to him and moves in with him. She is complete oblivious to the fact that Rito cares about Haruna. Lala tends to not know about Earth’s customs and gets herself in trouble when she takes off her clothes off. She also is an inventor but her inventions tend to not work the way she wants at times.

Haruna Sairenji – Rito’s classmate who cares about Rito but keeps her emotions to herself due to Rito’s engagement with Lala. She cares for him and knows that he cares for her.  She often wonders if Rito cares for girls like Lala and girls with bigger breasts.  Often entangled in Lala’s inventions and she and Rito and gets caught up in unusual, nude circumstances.

Yami/Golden Darkness – An assassin hired by one of Lala’s suitors to kill Rito but is now more of a person who loves to read books and study Earth culture.  She is not sure why Rito is nice to her, despite her being his enemy and wanting to hurt him.  Often punishing Rito as he thinks he is always trying to look at her panties and see her nude.

Peke – Lala’s robot who can change to a weapon or the clothes that she wears. He tends to be the voice of reason when Lala is confused.

Ryoko Mikado – The school doctor of Sainan High School who also worked for a black market extraterrestrial organization. She uses her medical skills to help the students at the school but also aliens. Likes to wear slinky clothing and sometimes no clothing at all.

Kenichi Saruyama – Rito’s best friend who is a pervert. Never can get a girlfriend but with his friendship to Rito, he’s having a ball with meeting his new female friends.  He likes a girl but doesn’t know it was Rito who was changed into a girl due to Lala’s invention.

Yui Kotegawa – An uptight student who doesn’t like things that are unacceptable behavior and thinks Rito and Lala’s behavior towards each other is unacceptable. Dislikes delinquent behavior at her school and is now in charge of writing demerits for those who are mischievous.  Unfortunately, she gets caught up in getting groped by other girls.  She also wonders if she is falling for Rito.

Risa and Mio – Risa Momioka and Mio Sawada are Haruna’s and Lala’s friends. Risa has a tendency of groping other girls.

Nana Asta Deviuke -Lala’s younger sister and twin sister of Momo (has longer hair and a visible tooth).  She somewhat likes Rito but also has a breast complex because hers is so small.  Always trying to find ways to make her breasts big.

Momo Velia Deviluke – Lala’s younger sister and twin sister of Nana.  Has shorter hair, sweeter and has bigger breasts than her sister and likes to flaunt it around Nana.  Collector of plants.

Mikan Yuuki – The younger sister of Rito. She knows he got himself in deep trouble and that he cares for both Haruna and Lala and thus, tries to help him at times.

Saki Tenjouin – The popular girl at school who dislikes Lala because she is suddenly getting all the attention at school. Her friends Rin and Aya are loyal to her and do her dirty work.  Lately, Rito has been falling on her lately and landing on her breasts.

Ren/Run Elsie Jewelria – A childhood friend of Lala who changes from male to female when he/she sneezes. As Ren, he wants to marry Lala. As Run, she is secretly in love with Rito.  Run is also a extra terrestrial pop star.

Kyouko Kirisaki – A pop star who is also a half-Earthling/Half-Alien and can generate fire.  She is the star of “Magical Kyoko”.

Oshizu Murasame – A ghost at the school building who now has a prosthetic body created by Mikado-san that she can possess and attend school with the other girls.  She also has feelings for Rito.

Celine – A carnivorous plant given to Rito by Lala for his 16th birthday.  She has the appearance of a little girl (with a big flower on her head) and Rito takes her in as part of the family.

 

VIDEO:

“Motto To Love RU” is presented in 1080p High Definition. For a television series, the series features a lot of colors and artistic backgrounds feature a good amount of backgrounds from school settings, shopping/city settings, Rito’s home, etc. Typically for a TV series from a smaller studio, I don’t expect to see so many backgrounds or an over utilization of artwork but XEBEC did a wonderful job in the animation and Yuichi Oka with the character designs. I don’t know how close his designs are actually to Kentaro Yabuki and Saki Hasemi’s original manga but overall, character design and art backgrounds are well done.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Lossless audio is featured in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with English subtitles. Voice acting by the seiyuu are well done as Akeno Watanabe (Taruru of “Sgt. Frog”, Jo of “Burst Angel”, Chachamaru Kamakuri of “Negima”) does the voice of Rito. Haruka Tomatsu (Mileina of “Gundam 00″, Misao of “Asura Cryin’ 2″) does the voice of Lala and Sayuri Yahagi (Chisato of “Sola”, Hanaka of “Buso Renkin”) as Haruna. Anime is front channel driven but if you have a receiver that allows for stereo on all channels, that was my listening preference.

There is no English dub track in this Blu-ray release of “To Love RU”.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Motto To Love RU – Complete Collection” features the Clean Opening and Closing Animation themes and Sentai Filmworks trailers.

Wilder, more perverted and more fan service than the previous season, “Motto to Love RU” will definitely appeal to those wanting more risque anime with tons of fan service and adult humor!

While watching “Motto to Love RU”, I have to admit that I was in one sense happy that the series was back, since I enjoyed the first season but also a tad bit disappointed that the full stories that were featured in each episode have now been replaced by three mini-episodes.   And the episodes were definitely made to be more wilder and perverted.

In the last season, it was basically dealing with the love triangle between Rito, Lala and Sairenji and of course, Rito having to defend his honor and the people he cares about.  There was a bit more action in the first season but this time around, Rito is more of the comic-centric character that is always in the wrong place at the wrong time (mainly caught for peeking up a girls skirt or in some situation that happened beyond his control) and getting punished for it.  If anything, this season focuses more on perverted comedy and a lot of fan service.

In some ways, it is reminiscent of mangaka Rumiko Takahashi’s “Urusei Yatsura” as a character ends up engaged to an alien. But in this case, Rito is nothing like Ataru (nor is he perverted). But “To Love RU” has its fair share of crazy antics, fan service and yes… nudity. Unlike Lum, Lala doesn’t know how Rito feels inside, even though family and friends know that he’s gotten himself into a mess. Also, similar to another Rumiko Takahashi anime series (Ranma 1/2), the character of Ren/Run able to change genders is quite interesting and makes me wonder if series creator Kentaro Yabuki was paying homage to Takahashi’s works.

But this second season definitely amps up the hijinks, the craziness, fan service and the perverted humor of the series.  And for those who enjoy this type of anime, “Motto to Love RU” is for you!  Do you need to watch the original anime series to understand this second.  Yes and no.  The first does explain why the aliens are living with Rito and of course, you get their introductions.  But the second series is created as mini-episodes with hijinks and fan-service that one can understand what is going on.

It’s only the final episode where you actually get something somewhat deep as the question of which girl Rito will pick comes to play.  But needless to say, I’m sure that the hijinks of these characters will continue, in the manga series or with more seasons of anime episodes.

As for the Blu-ray release, I wished there were more special features than the clean opening and closing themes and I’m sure there are fans who wish there was an English dub included. The Japanese voice acting is still enjoyable and well-performed.

While the Blu-ray is rated TV 14 D, it’s important to note that there is nudity and a lot of sexual humor and images, so this is not an anime series you want younger people to be watching.

Overall, “Motto To Love RU” is a hilarious anime series that was fun for me as I enjoyed the first season, but also a step back as it was not full-story episodes but an episode of three short, wild and crazy stories..

If you are looking for a series with adult, perverted humor and a lot of fan service, “Motto To Love RU” is the anime series you definitely want to watch! Recommended!

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

April 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” is a fantastic, action-packed anime series!  If you loved the first half, you will certainly love the second half as the storyline and animation is quite captivating.  Highly recommended!

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

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

TV SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: Episodes 13-25 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 widescreen, Japanese Linear PCM, English Dolby Digital 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: 13 and up

RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2014

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

Aladdin has yet to regain consciousness from the battle with the fallen magi Judar. Meanwhile, as the third prince of Balbadd, Alibaba tries to stop his older brother King Ahbmad from turning Balbadd into a slave-exporting nation. But his plans are thwarted by none other than Cassim, his childhood friend from the slums, now transformed into a Dark Djinn by the Dark Metal Vessel. Cassim tries to strike down the royal family for causing their citizens to suffer for many years.

Cassim’s attacks crush Alibaba both physically and mentally, but he gets back up again and again. Just then, a friend reaches out a helping hand! With Aladdin’s support once again, can Alibaba rescue his country, people, and Cassim from the darkness?

Soon after, Alibaba and Aladdin will learn about Al-Tharmen, the organization that has been causing the “Abnormalities of the World”…

Aladdin takes on the evil magi known as Judar.  Meanwhile, a new adventure awaits for Alibaba, Aladdin and Morgiana as Sinbad sends them to Sindria, while the Kou Empire approaches Balbadd, preparing to invade the city. And a new member joins Aladdin and friends!

While Sinbad and his forces prepare for an attack from Al-Thamen and his forces.

Find out which side is successful in the battle in “Magi: The Labyrinth 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 13-25 of the first season of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” was released on DVD in the United States in March 2014.

“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 & AUDIO:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and Japanese Linear PCM 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 Labyrinth of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Ending

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” comes with a 2-sided reversible cover illustrated by Toshifumi Akai (character designer/chief animation director), a deluxe booklet and a five collectable foil stamped postcards.  Also, a slipcover is included.

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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.

While I wish “Magi: The Labyrinth 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 a lot of swag. In this case, five collectable foil stamped postcards, 2-sided reversible cover illustrated by Toshifumi Akai (the character designer/chief animation director) and a 16-page deluxe booklet.

Overall, “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2” is a fantastic, action-packed anime series!  If you loved the first half, you will certainly love the second half as the storyline and animation is quite captivating.  Highly recommended!

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