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

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


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

DURATION: (Episodes 122-144) 575 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: May 23, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

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

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unsho Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Shino Kakinuma/Kara Edwards as Videl

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Goten


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kibit – The loyal bodyguard of Kaioshin.

The main antagonists are:

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


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

DURATION: (Episodes 99-121) 575 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: April 25, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

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

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unsho Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Shino Kakinuma/Kara Edwards as Videl

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Goten


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sailor Moon R: The Movie (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

There is no doubt that “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” was ahead of its time. A classic, dramatic “Sailor Moon” film that manages to balance drama and action very well. If you are a big fan of the film, definitely own this film on Blu-ray, it’s the definitive version worth purchasing! Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1993 TOEI ANIMATION. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sailor Moon R: The Movie

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 1993

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 18, 2017


Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara

Screenplay: Sukehiro Tomita

Character Design by Kazuko Tadano

Music by Akiko Kosaka, Takanori Arisawa, Tetsuya Komuro

Art Design by Junichi Taniguchi

Animation Director: Kazuko Tadano

Anime Production: Toei Animation/TV Asahi


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hisakawa/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Emi Shinohara/Amanda C. Miller as Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Michie Tomizawa/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Rica Fukami/Stephanie Morgenstern as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Kae Araki/Sandy Fox as Chibi Usa

Keiko Han/Jill Frappier as Luna

Tohru Furuya/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

Yasuhiro Takato/Ron Rubin as Artemis

Hikaru Midorikawa/Ben Diskin as Fiore

Hiromi Nishikawa as Campanula

Mahito Ohba as Newscaster

Megumi Ogata as Mamoru Chiba (as a child)

Tomoko Maruo as Fiore (as a child)

Wakana Yamazaki as Flower Youma Gurishina

Yumi Touma as Kisenian


Long before Mamoru found his destiny with Usagi, he gave a single rose in thanks to a lonely boy who helped him recover from the crash that claimed his parents. This long-forgotten friend, Fiore, has been searching the galaxy for a flower worthy of that sweet gesture long ago. This Xenian flower is beautiful, but has a dark side- it has the power to take over planets! To make matters worse, the strange plant is tied to an asteroid hurling towards Earth! Faced with an enemy blooming out of control, It’s up to Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians to band together, stop the impending destruction and save Mamoru!


Back in 1991, mangaka Naoko Takeuchi would create her shojo manga series “Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon”.

Serialized in “Nakayoshi” (from 1991-1997) with a total of 18 tankobon (graphic novel) versions published, the series would reach enormous popularity with over 35 million copies sold worldwide and the release of the anime series would further the popularity worldwide with 200 episodes created (1992-1997), three animated films, a live-action TV series, musicals, video games and more.

In 2016, Viz Media showcased “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” at Anime Expo featuring a new English dub, uncut for the first time in American theaters.

The original film was released in theaters back in 1993 and was directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara and written by Sukehiro Tomita and takes place after the original “Sailor Moon R” series.

And now, “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

The film begins with Usagi, Mamoru, Chiba-Usa and friends taking a trip to the Jindai Botanical Garden.

Meanwhile, we see a flashback of a young Mamoru giving a rose to a mysterious boy and the boy promising to return to bring Mamoru many flowers.

As Mamoru steps outside after the other Sailor Senshi are caught spying on the two as they are about to kiss, the mysterious boy, now a man comes to give Mamoru flowers and holds his hand.

Usagi sees the man’s affections towards Mamoru and Usagi tells him that Mamoru is her boyfriend and the mysterious man knocks her down and vows that no one will prevent him from keeping his promise and he disappears.

As the Sailor Senshi are talking among others, they talk about how Mamoru is not only popular with the women but also probably towards men.  Meanwhile, a ball of light is seen floating and buries itself to the ground and a flower grows.

The following morning, Rei meanwhile senses an evil aura and she and the other Sailor Senshi follow Rei and find many of the local city people all fallen to the ground.  When they go to check on them, the people awaken (like zombies) with plants controlling them and they try to attack them.

They find that the person responsible is a flower monster named Glycina and it drains energy from people. As the Sailor Senshi tries to fight her, Fiore appears and uses a flower called Xenian to hurt them.

As Mamoru shoes up to talk to Fiore and prevent him from fighting the Sailor Senshis, he learns that the Xenian is controlling his mind.  As Fiore tries to attack Usagi, Mamoru saves her just in time but is hurt.  Fiore manages to take the injured Mamoru away from Earth to an asteroid and plans to revive him in a crystal.

What is this connection between Fiore and Mamoru?  And can Usagi and friends save Mamoru and defeat Fiore?  And why is Fiore so angry?


VIDEO:

“Sailor Moon R: The Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition and one must remember that this is an old school anime film and created with cels not digitally as anime is made today.  And handling of anime series were done differently back then and so you may see some occasional spotting in certain frames.

With that being said, this HD version is no doubt the best version I have seen of this film to date.  Having had the original Pioneer DVD, this Blu-ray release from Viz Media is much better in terms of color vibrance and sharpness.  I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sailor Moon R: The Movie” is presented in Japanese and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both soundtracks are done quite well and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the front channels.  It’s important to note that this animated film on Blu-ray features the current cast featured on the Viz Media releases and not the English dub from the 2000 Pioneer DVD release.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sailor Moon R: The Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Make Up! Sailor Guardians Featurette – (16:32) A special feature about the Sailor Guardians, a recap that was shown originally before the animated film in Japan in theaters (presented in Japanese and English).
  • Theatrical Intro with English Cast – (10:46) Featuring the English dub voice talent: Stephanie Sheh, Robbie Daymond and Ben Diskin being interviewed about the film.
  • 2017 Los Angeles Premiere – (34:29) Featuring a post-panel with Voice Director – Suzanne Goldish, the English voice talent of “Sailor Moon R” (from the Los Angeles Premiere) and cosplayers.
  • Gallery – “Sailor Moon R” image gallery
  • Trailer – “Sailor Moon R” theatrical trailer

Back in 1993, “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” was released in Japanese theaters and for many fans of the animated series, this was anticipated holiday movie release during the Christmas time in Japan.

At the time, Toei Animation really did a lot of promotion for the film, going so far to have a special “Sailor Moon and X’mas” event in Ginza limited to several hundred people.

One of the earlier personal anime-driven websites in the early ’90s owned by Hitoshi Doi, said of the movie, “It was a great movie.  Maybe my favorite movie of all time”.

Meanwhile, on anime BBS, there was a lot of discussion about the content and possible homosexual storyline about love between two boys.  A topic that was debated at the time and while not super controversial, it was enough for Pioneer Entertainment to release it in 1999 on VHS edited and in Japanese only with English subtitles.

But for the bilingual DVD release back in 2000, Pioneer Entertainment released it uncut but also an edited version of the VHS dub as it was censored for content.

Needless to say, with the release of “Sailor Moon R: The Movie”, the goal was to release this film, with the new English voice cast that have been used for Viz releases.  But most importantly, to feature a storyline that is not censored but to accept what the original Japanese story had been about and not changing the story to reflect that two young male characters that do care about each other.

So, with the changing of the times, we have a new Blu-ray release of “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” that gets things right by not deviating from the story’s original intention.

I actually wrote back when the original DVD was released, “The movie is actually pretty good.  Touching in some areas and it’ll maybe make you want to cry.  When people buy this, they may think they can just buy this for their kids but if you want to explain to your children about homosexuality references and so forth, then go ahead and buy it.”

Watching this film nearly 25-years later and 17-years after the DVD was released, I look back and see Hitoshi Doi’s 1993 post and in Japan, they don’t make any references about two boys liking each other, in fact, fans loved it because of its dramatic storyline of sacrifice and love.  In addition to the action sequences involved as well.

It’s a shame that back then, companies had to censor the film and it was unfortunate, that I felt the need to warn parents because of the references.  Things have changed so much in terms of what can be accepted in film or pop culture in terms of references to LGBT.  If anything, there is no warning that should be needed.  Children watching this may think friendship, while its the parents who may be doing most of the questioning, hopefully people can watch this film and not make such a big deal of the references made between Mamoru and Fiore.

The story revolves around a young Mamoru and a boy named Fiore.  Mamoru gives Fiore a rose and a young Fiore made a promise to bring a flower back to Mamoru.  So, Fiore made it his life duty to fulfill that promise by searching for a flower across the galaxy just for Mamoru.

And when Fiore comes back as an adult to Mamoru to give him the flower he had found and showing his true affections that he has long had for Mamoru, Usagi tells Fiore that Mamoru is her boyfriend.

Needless to say, that doesn’t suit well for Fiore and to make things worse, since Fiore is possessed by the Xenian flower, he uses the power of the flower-monster Glycina to feed on people’s energy and uses it against Sailor Moon and friends.

But it’s a battle for Mamoru’s affections…who will win?  Usagi or Fiore?

No doubt the ending is quite predictable but the film features a strong dramatic storyline that shows how deep Usagi’s love for Mamoru and her friends.  And how far she will go to sacrifice her life for those who are important to her.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” looks very good in HD.  One must remember that this is an old school anime film and created with cels not digitally as anime is made today.  And handling of anime series were done differently back then and so you may see some occasional spotting in certain frames.  But colors and sharpness are wonderful and this is the best version I have seen of the film to date.

And for lossless audio, we get a lossless audio stereo track that sounds great in HD!

And this release also comes with the original Make Up! Sailor Guardians Featurette, which was shown prior to the film’s screening in Japan, to get fans and also non-fans up to speed about each character and where the story is heading at that point of time. Plus, you get interviews with the English cast and the post-screeening of the film panel shown at the film premiere in Los Angeles.

Overall, there is no doubt that “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” was ahead of its time. A classic, dramatic “Sailor Moon” film that manages to balance drama and action very well.  If you are a big fan of the film, definitely own this film on Blu-ray, it’s the definitive version worth purchasing!

Recommended!

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

November 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

dbz-resurresction

“Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” manages to maintain the “Dragon Ball Z” animated film via popcorn action consistency. With a story focused on all-out action and the usual comedy, featuring the return of the Z Warriors taking on a more powerful Frieza, “Dragon Ball Z” fans will be no doubt be excited for this animated film! If you are a DBZ fan, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © BIRD STUDIO/SHUEISHA, 2015 Dragon Ball Z the movie production committee. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’

DURATION: 95 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: October 20, 2015


Original Creator/Character Design by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Tadashi Yamamuro

Screenplay by Akira Toriyama 

Chief Animation Director: Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Art Direction by Shinzo Yuki

Anime Production by TOEI ANIMATION


Voice by:

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Ryusei Nakao/Chris Ayres as Frieza

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Ten Shin Han

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Beerus

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-Sen’nin/Master Roshi

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Whis

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Gohan

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin

Natsuki Hanae/Todd Haberkorn as Jaco

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Shiro Saito/Jeremy Schwartz as Sorbet

Toshio Furukawa/Chris Sabat as Piccolo


Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is the second Dragon Ball film personally supervised by the series creator Akira Toriyama, following Battle of Gods. The new movie showcases the return of Frieza – one of the anime world’s greatest villains. Frieza has been resurrected and plans to take his revenge on the Z-Fighters of Earth. Goku and Vegeta must reach new levels of power in order to protect Earth from their vengeful nemesis.


As the worldwide popularity of “Dragon Ball Z” continues, a 15th film was released in 2015 titled “Dragon Ball Z: Fukkatsu no F” (“Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection “F”).

The animated film did very well in Japan as it took #1 in the Japanese box office earning over $8.1 million (US) and also did very well internationally.  In the US, the film was the first Japanese film to be screened in IMAX 3D and was also screened in Japan at ten 4DX theaters.  The $5 million animated film went on to gross over $62.8 million in the box office making it a major box office success in 2015.

And the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The film begins with Frieza’s army featuring Commander Sorbet knowing how bad things are without their leader.  But with their Intel which shows that Bulma was not the only human that has the technology to find Dragon Balls, Commander Sorbet and his crew go to Earth in hopes of reviving Frieza by finding Pulaf, Mai and Shu who are in the process of collecting Dragon Balls.

As Sorbet uses the Dragon Ball to revive Frieza, Frieza is briefed on how powerful Son Goku has become, even beating Majin Boo, that he will trained to become even more powerful and will exact his revenge.

As news has traveled throughout space, Jaco the Galactic Patrolman travels to Earth to warn Bulma that Frieza has returned.  But Goku and Vegeta are gone and are training on Beerus’ planet with Whis.  Which leaves Gohan, Piccolo, Krillin, Master Roshi, Tien Shinhan and Jaco to take on Frieza and his soldiers.

As the Z Warriors are not powerful enough to take on Frieza, Bulma sends a distress message to Goku and Vegeta, but are both men ready to take on this newly trained Frieza?


VIDEO & AUDIO

It’s important to note that if you want the best video and audio quality of “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”, the Blu-ray is the way to go.  As for the DVD, picture quality is very good (as the best it can get on DVD).  Colors are vibrant, the English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack features crisp and clear dialogue and music, while there are good use of the surround channels on both soundtracks.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features that came with “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”.


I happened to be in Japan during the promotion of “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” and there was no doubt, a lot of excitement for the movie.  The battle between Goku and Frieza was one of the biggest anime battles of all time and while there have been many battles showcased on the “Dragon Ball Z” anime series.

I watched the Goku vs. Frieza arc when it first was broadcasted in Japan and was also reading the Japanese “Shonen Jump”, so I was really into these characters and storyline at that time.

So, I have to say that when I found out that Frieza was being revived, while it does make sense, part of me was hoping that the storyline of Frieza’s death would be left alone.  As we saw how the storyline in relation to Frieza was played out with his older brother Cooler, for the fifth and sixth movies, there was part of me that wanted to see the Frieza storyline to be left in the past and new villains to be focused on from here on in.

With “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”, Frieza has been revived and after hearing of how Goku has gotten popular, Frieza decides to train for the first time in his life and has now become even stronger and can achieve “Golden Frieza” mode.  And now, a more powerful Goku and Vegeta must take on an even more powerful Frieza, but can they do it?

As a “Dragon Ball” fan, one of the positives of this latest film is to see all Z Warriors making their appearance but one of the biggest surprises for me was to see the Galactic Patrolman, JACO in the film.  Having read Akira Toriyama’s JACO one-shot manga (as the manga series shows a relation to Bulma’s family, moreso with her older sister, Tights), it was wonderful to finally seeing this character animated and utilized in a “Dragon Ball Z” film.

But of course, when you have a story that focuses on Frieza, one can expect an intense battle and for the most part, the storyline doesn’t disappoint when it comes to action.  But part of the excitement in the past, is that Goku and friends are often pushed to the extreme because the situation is quite dire and we see an intense buildup with many episodes in order to have the ultimate battle between Goku and an antagonist.  With a film, there is no true buildup, it’s just a fight and then it’s all over in 95 minutes.

Not to say that it’s bad without the buildup but that’s what made the battles between Goku vs. Piccolo, Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, Majin Boo so exciting! Otherwise, the animated “Dragon Ball Z” films are often quick, popcorn action animated films and are not as satisfying as its TV series counterpart.

When it comes to DBZ animated films, my barometer of best story is the fifth film, “Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan” and have felt the Broly-related DBZ films were so much fun to watch, as didn’t feel rushed.

With “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F'”, the animated film tries to incorporate so many characters and this ongoing bickering between Goku and Vegeta was a bit much.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy the animated film and really, to have Frieza as the main antagonist for a DBZ film is huge.  So, I had no doubt in my mind that with the resurrection of Frieza, Toei Animation were no doubt wanting to go big with an international release.  And for the most part, it paid off as the film did remarkably well in box offices worldwide.

As for the DVD, as mentioned, you will definitely want to go with the Blu-ray release if you want the best video and audio quality.  But on DVD, picture quality is good as it can get on DVD.  Colors are vibrant and the voice acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done!  The only drag about this DVD release is the lack of special features (aside from FUnimation trailers).

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” manages to maintain the “Dragon Ball Z” animated film via popcorn action consistency.  With a story focused on all-out action and the usual comedy, featuring the return of the Z Warriors taking on a more powerful Frieza, “Dragon Ball Z” fans will be no doubt be excited for this animated film!

If you are a DBZ fan, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” is recommended!

The Slayers Evolution-R (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The fifth season “The Slayers Evolution-R” takes the series up a notch over the last season with a more darker, more action-driven storyline. If you have dedicated yourself this long to the “The Slayers” series, there is no doubt you will find “The Slayers Evolution-R” to be a much more exciting than “Revolution” and the best looking season for “The Slayers” yet!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

BLU-RAY TITLE: The Slayers Evolution-R

DURATION: Episodes 14-26 (Duration: 312 Minutes, 2 Blu-rays)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: September 21, 2010

Original Story: Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi

Directed by Takashi Watanabe

Series Composition by Jiro Takayama

Character Design: Naomi Miyata

Art Director: Shinji Kawaai

Sound Director: Yoshikazu Iwanami

Director of Photography: Yutaka Kurosawa

Producer: Gou Shukuri, Shinichi Ikeda, Yuji Matsukura

Animation Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Megumi Hayashibara/Lisa Ortiz as Lina Inverse

Yasunaro Matsumoto/Eric Stuart as Gourry Gabriev

Hikaru Midorikawa/Crispin Freeman as Zelgadis

Masami Suzuki/Veronica Taylor as Amelia

Colleen O’Shaughnessey/Yumiko Kobayashi as Pokota

Akira Ishida/Michael Sinterniklaas as Xelloss

Takehito Koyasu/Liam O’Brien as Rezo

The magical mayhem of The Slayers Revolution continues in The Slayers Evolution-R! With the original cast of The Slayers back together for the first time in over a decade, Lina Inverse and her crew are reunited and doing what they do best – saving the world by almost destroying it!

Lina’s gang and their new ally Pokota are hot on the trail of the Hellmaster’s Jar! It’s no ordinary piece of pottery: it holds the soul of Rezo the Red Priest. Opening the vessel and resurrecting Rezo is the only hope Pokota has of saving his kingdom’s people. With masked assassins, headless knights, and shifty Xellos in the mix, one thing is certain: destruction is guaranteed!

I can easily remember watching “The Slayers” when it first appeared on television in Japan, catching the premiere of the series at an anime convention and watching the main Japanese voice actress Megumi Hayashibara promoting the series in America and singing a song from the series. And then the release of the series on VHS and owning multiple copies just to get a subtitled and English dubbed version because I enjoyed the series that much.

It’s hard to believe but nearly 14 years later since “The Slayers” debut as a light novel by Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi (which the duo has since released 50 light novels), the series has received a manga treatment, two OAV series, five movies, countless video games and for anime series, there have been a total of five seasons.

With the series having had its release in the US from Software Sculptors and Central Park Media, “The Slayers” series received back in August 2009 with its first major collection from FUNimation Entertainment with “The Slayers: The First Three Seasons” which consists of Season One: The Slayers (April 1995-Sept. 1995, 26 episodes), Season Two: Slayers Next (April 1996-Sept. 1996, 26 episodes) and Season Three: Slayers Try (April 1997-Sept. 1997, 26 episodes) for a total of 78 episodes included in this collection.

With the series going on a decade-long hiatus, the fourth season was released 11 years after the third season and titled “The Slayers Revolution” (aired between July-September 2008) which was released by FUNimation Entertainment. The fourth season features the first 13-episodes and is now continued on Blu-ray and DVD with this latest release of “The Slayers Evolution-R” (the fifth season) which comprises of the final 13-episodes which were aired between January-April 2009 (note: The manga is still ongoing in Japan).

“Slayers Revolution” is directed by Takashi Watanabe (“Casshan: Robot Hunter”, “Y’s II”, “New Fist of the North Star”, “Ikki Tousen”), screen composition by Jiro Takayama (“The Slayers” series, “Angel Links”, “Wings of Rean”, “El Hazard: The Wanderers”), character designs by Naomi Miyata (“Kino’s Journey”, “Revolutionary Girl Utena”, “Sakura Wars”) and music by Osamu Tezuka (“Shadow Skill”, “Popotan”, “Lost Universe, “Akazukin Cha Cha”).

The series revolves around the character of Lina Inverse, a powerful sorceress who has a love for money and eating a lot of food. Everytime she tries to help a village (for money), somehow, she ends up destroying it and thus, has a reputation of being a destructive and evil sorceress. She is accompanied by Gourry Gabriev and sometimes by Zelgadis Greyswords and Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun during her adventures for more money, food and fun.

But this time, they encounter a small creature named Pokota that knows how to use the “Dragon Slave” whose village was put into a stasis. His village was struck by a sickness in which humans were sickened by an illness called Durum which changes their appearance. So, to prevent the village from Durum, a magical wizard put his village in a deep sleep until a cure is found. But with the durum sickness now gone, Pokota needs the wizard to wake everyone up.

So, In order to revive his village, he needs to find a man who helped save his village once before, to use his magic. Unfortunately, the man is Rezo, the Red Priest. The enemy of Lina and friends and the man responsible for turning Zelgadis to a chimera. Despite the bad things that Rezo has done, Pokota believes Rezo is a good man who saved his village.

But with Lina and friends wanting to see if Rezo is indeed alive (when he is supposed to be dead), they are willing to help Pokota. For now…

The main characters of “The Slayers Evolution-R” are:

Lina Inverse – A powerful sorceress who loves money and food. She is very sensitive when she’s around other women that are more bustier than her and tends to have a short fuse. Whenever she’s in battle, her spells tend to do more damage than she thinks. But because of the sheer amount of destruction that she’s caused, the rumors have spread throughout the country and people tend to fear her and make her out as an evil person when she’s not.

Gourry Gabriev – The marvelous swordsman who wields the sword of light. He also has a bad memory and is a powerful magic wielder but doesn’t remember being one. So, he joins Lina on her adventures as her personal bodyguard.

Zelgadis Greywords – A powerful sorcerer who is a chimera made of a rock golemn courtesy of his ancestor Rizo. Known for his green face and purple, wiry hair and is half demon and human. He looks desperately for a stone that will change him to a human, even if it means losing his chimera powers. A stoic, no-nonsense character.

Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun – A young miko and also a princess. Her dream is becoming a hero of justice and thus, had joined Lina and Gourry in many adventures. Very naive at times and believes almost everything that people tend to tell her. She also knows that Lina and Goury tend to use her for her money.

Xellos – A high level Mazoku and a priest of the “Greater Beast Zelas-Metallium”. Also known as Beastmaster Xellos and is literally a frienemy of Lina and friends. When he seems like he’s helping, he seems to have some sort of ulterior motive.

Pokota – An animal-like creature who has the ability to use great power like Lina. A former human who searches for Rezo to awaken the people of Taforashia.

Wizer – A special investigator who is on a hot trail pursuing Lina Inverse to arrest her for being Lina Inverse.

“The Slayers Evolution-R” comes with the complete season, episodes 14-26 on two Blu-ray discs (note: The Blu-rays utilize the number scheme of Evolution-R beginning at episode 14). Here are the spoiler-less summaries of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 14 – Newcomer! A New Journey – Lina and friends on an adventure to find Rezo and meet a woman named Nama who’s soul is embedded in a suit of armor (and has lot her memory).
  • EPISODE 15 – Oh My Head! Where’s My Head? – Nama joins the team and together they look for a magical jar that Rezod has used to turn Pokota to a creature and they meet Hans, another knight who’s soul is embedded in it (but is missing his head) who said he has a hellmaster jar like the one they are looking for and will give it to them if they can find his head.
  • EPISODE 16- Partner! Sharing Mind and Body? – Lina takes on a man who has magical power over animals.
  • EPISODE 17 – Quality Time! A Homelife with Love? – The fish lady returns and claims that Gourry is the father of her fish children. Being the gullible guy he is, Gourry to want to raise his children.
  • EPISODE 18 – Raider! The Voice from the Darkness – Zelgadis and Lina take on a dragon. Meanwhile, something happens to Nama and an episode with Xellos and Mr. Zula.
  • EPISODE 19 – Seek! Who’s Being Targeted? – Mr. Zuma instructs Lina and friends that they must go to a village and protect a merchant named Radok who is being targeted or else someone will die.
  • EPISODE 20 – Townscape! Because it’s Manmade! – Lina and friends await in the village to protect Radok from whoever is trying to kill them.
  • EPISODE 21 – Uncover! The Exposed Darkness! – The merchant is tired of waiting for being targeted and thus will go on an adventure to prompt the assassin to make its move. Zuma’s identity revealed.
  • EPISODE 22 – Voice! What’s Inside the Jar – Lina becomes the owner of the hellmaster’s jar, but now the group must figure how to destroy the seal of the jar.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 23 – Wisdom! Seek the Time that Will Never Return! – Zelgadis steals the jar from Lina in hopes to get his body back.
  • EPISODE 24 – Xeno! The Price of Revival! – Pokota takes the jar and wants to resurrect Rezo.
  • EPISODE 25 – Yesterday’s Memory! Days Regained! – Rezo is resurrected.
  • EPISODE 26 – Zero Hour! The Destroyed One! – Shabranigdo, the powerful being of evil and the source of power of Lina’s “Dragon Slave” is revived.

VIDEO :

Considering “The Slayers Evolution-R” was released 12 years after “The Slayers Try” (1997), one would expect a major update to the animation. And the animation and background art looks for this series is fantastic!

The anime series features a much more bolder stroke around the characters, a more vibrant color pallet and better shading and detail. Artistic backgrounds are fine but for a series such as “The Slayers”, typically there are a lot of closeup shots of the characters and when comparing this series to the first three seasons, it’s like comparing a new Mercedes to an older, normal car. There is a huge improvement in animation and artistic background.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to review the DVD version and if there was one thing I noticed, “The Slayers Evolution-R” looked a bit better than “The Slayers Revolution”.  The animation and even the artistic backgrounds seem much better in “The Slayers Evolution-R”.

The series is presented in 1:78:1 108p High Definition and is an upscaled anime on BD release.  The edge enhancement is still visible, as is the banding but the artifacts are not as evident.

But the series on Blu-ray does feature a vibrant color pallet and for a anime TV series, the picture quality does stand out quite a bit compared to the DVD release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “The Slayers Evolution-R” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  The series is primarily front and center channel driven but I did notice how certain scenes, ie. large halls in which the sound is nicely echoed through the halls, especially footsteps through the halls, doors creaking through the halls, wood creeking, wind flowing through open spaces  and I pretty much noticed more surround usage in this series compared to “The Slayers Revolution”.

Also, other ambiance such as crowds and music can be heard through the surround channels.  Especially, the use of magic can be heard through the surround channels.

For the most part, the series is dialogue driven and dialogue and music is crisp and clear via lossless and even the Japanese soundtrack sounds much more richer and well-balanced.  So, there is a definite difference audio wise compared to the original DVD release.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The Slayers Evolution-R” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening Song – Textless Songs for “Front Breaking”.
  • Textless Closing  Song – Textless Songs for “Sand Clock”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

“Slayers” will always be an anime series that I will always enjoy. I was heavily into the series back in the 90’s and I know there had been this lull of when I didn’t catch anything related to the series but just a few related films. But watching this series again, definitely brought back memories of catching the series at an anime con meeting, an anime convention, buying multiple versions to get the subtitled and English dubbed versions. I really enjoyed this series.

But it takes some dedication. Where a long anime series such as “Dragon Ball Z” can have a conclusion, the fact that this series has literally been on television or released in some format for the last 15 years, you really have to be a dedicated fan to following a series this long.

In fact, each season is a story arc in itself but for the most part, they are stand-alone episodes and typically the final three or four episodes is where everything tends to lead to a major battle. And despite these episodes being over a decade old, the anime still holds up today. And the fact that you can own all three seasons in a single box set for a great price is also another incentive.

“The Slayers Evolution-R” looks absolutely fantastic. The character design and backgrounds are full of detail and is vibrant of colors. Storywise, “The Slayers Evolution-R” is much better than the last season “The Slayers Revolution” in my opinion. I felt that “Revolution” was very Pokota-driven and in someways, was a more happy-style of storyline that seemed like a series targeted towards a more younger demographic. With “The Slayers Evolution-R”, the series gets much darker and even a bit bloody (especially during the Zuma storyline) and although Pokota is in this series, he’s not as prominent, which is a good thing. Of course, the humor and weird storylines is still intact with this fifth seasn, especially the episode with Goury and the fish lady which was really odd but it was a hilarious episode.

Overall, “The Slayers Evolution-R” should definitely please “Slayers” fans who want the humor, the action and battles that the original series was known for. It’s definitely a step-up from “The Slayers Revolution” and the animation and artistic backgrounds are fantastic. I also feel that the series also has a wonderful English dub and also Japanese dialogue as well.

It’s important to note that it does help to watch the original three seasons to get some background on the characters but because the animation back then may not appeal to modern anime viewers, you can start with “The Slayers Revolution” and watch “The Slayers Evolution-R” and still enjoy it.

The Blu-ray release of “The Slayers Evolution-R” is definitely a major improvement over the DVD version video and audio-wise.  But once again, for those hardcore anime on Blu-ray fans who are expecting a lot, it’s important to remind everyone that this is a TV series and it’s not going to look spectacular when compared to an anime film or OVA.  But still, if you have watched the previous three seasons of “The Slayers” and are now just jumping in, then the Blu-ray is recommended.

In fact, if you are not too picky and still want a humorous anime series, I still recommend checking out “The Slayers Evolution-R” because it is a humorous series and it’s just fun to watch.

If you are a fan of “The Slayers” and have committed yourself to watching and owning every season, I definitely recommend “The Slayers Evolution-R”.

The Slayers Revolution (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

More hijinks, more action and even more destruction!  The long awaited fourth season of “The Slayers” saga continues with “The Slayers Revolution” now available on Blu-ray!  Definitely an improvement over its DVD counterpart.

 

Image courtesy of © FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Slayers Revolution

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (Duration: 300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: September 21, 2010

Original Story: Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi

Directed by Takashi Watanabe

Series Composition by Jiro Takayama

Character Design: Naomi Miyata

Art Director: Shinji Kawaai

Sound Director: Yoshikazu Iwanami

Director of Photography: Yutaka Kurosawa

Producer: Gou Shukuri, Shinichi Ikeda, Yuji Matsukura

Animation Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Megumi Hayashibara/Lisa Ortiz as Lina Inverse

Yasunaro Matsumoto/Eric Stuart as Gourry Gabriev

Hikaru Midorikawa/Crispin Freeman as Zelgadis

Masami Suzuki/Veronica Taylor as Amelia

Colleen O’Shaughnessey/Yumiko Kobayashi as Pokota

Akira Ishida/Michael Sinterniklaas as Xelloss

Takehito Koyasu/Liam O’Brien as Rezo

 

Lina’s on the run from a government inspector who’s ready to put her away for good. Her crime? Just being herself! The guy’s hot on her tail, but a tiny creature that actually has a tail might be Lina’s biggest problem. Pokota’s a powerful little furball, and his path of destruction is getting pinned on Lina.

With so much explosive magic between them, you know things will go boom when they face off. But there’s more to Pokota than anyone knows, and if Lina’s gang can get to the bottom of his habit of blowing stuff up, they could end up with an awesome new ally.

I can easily remember watching “The Slayers” when it first appeared on television in Japan, catching the premiere of the series at an anime convention and watching the main Japanese voice actress Megumi Hayashibara promoting the series in America and singing a song from the series. And then the release of the series on VHS and owning multiple copies just to get a subtitled and English dubbed version because I enjoyed the series that much.

It’s hard to believe but nearly 14 years later since “The Slayers” debut as a light novel by Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi (which the duo has since released 50 light novels), the series has received a manga treatment, two OAV series, five movies, countless video games and for anime series, there have been a total of five.

With the series having had its release in the US from Software Sculptors and Central Park Media, “The Slayers” series received back in August 2009 with its first major collection from FUNimation Entertainment with “The Slayers: The First Three Seasons” which consists of Season One: The Slayers (April 1995-Sept. 1995, 26 episodes), Season Two: Slayers Next (April 1996-Sept. 1996, 26 episodes) and Season Three: Slayers Try (April 1997-Sept. 1997, 26 episodes) for a total of 78 episodes included in this collection.

Now the fourth season which began 11 years after the third season titled “Slayers Revolution” (which aired between July-September 2008) will be released by FUNimation Entertainment on Blu-ray. This fourth season features the first 13-episodes and is continued on “Slayers Evolution-R” (the fifth season) which comprises of the final 13-episodes and aired between January-April 2009 (note: The manga is still ongoing in Japan).  Both titles will be simultaneously released on Blu-ray, a DVD version for both titles were released earlier this year.

“Slayers Revolution” is directed by Takashi Watanabe (“Casshan: Robot Hunter”, “Y’s II”, “New Fist of the North Star”, “Ikki Tousen”), screen composition by Jiro Takayama (“The Slayers” series, “Angel Links”, “Wings of Rean”, “El Hazard: The Wanderers”), character designs by Naomi Miyata (“Kino’s Journey”, “Revolutionary Girl Utena”, “Sakura Wars”) and music by Osamu Tezuka (“Shadow Skill”, “Popotan”, “Lost Universe, “Akazukin Cha Cha”).

The series revolves around the character of Lina Inverse, a powerful sorceress who has a love for money and eating a lot of food. Everytime she tries to help a village (for money), somehow, she ends up destroying it and thus, has a reputation of being a destructive and evil sorceress. She is accompanied by Gourry Gabriev and sometimes by Zelgadis Greyswords and Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun during her adventures for more money, food and fun.

But this time, they encounter a small creature that knows how to use the “Dragon Slave” and a government employee named Wizer is trying to arrest Lina. Why?

The main characters of “Slayers Revolution” are:

Lina Inverse – A powerful sorceress who loves money and food. She is very sensitive when she’s around other women that are more bustier than her and tends to have a short fuse. Whenever she’s in battle, her spells tend to do more damage than she thinks. But because of the sheer amount of destruction that she’s caused, the rumors have spread throughout the country and people tend to fear her and make her out as an evil person when she’s not.

Gourry Gabriev – The marvelous swordsman who wields the sword of light. He also has a bad memory and is a powerful magic wielder but doesn’t remember being one. So, he joins Lina on her adventures as her personal bodyguard.

Zelgadis Greywords – A powerful sorcerer who is a chimera made of a rock golemn courtesy of his ancestor Rizo. Known for his green face and purple, wiry hair and is half demon and human. He looks desperately for a stone that will change him to a human, even if it means losing his chimera powers. A stoic, no-nonsense character.

Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun – A young miko and also a princess. Her dream is becoming a hero of justice and thus, had joined Lina and Gourry in many adventures. Very naive at times and believes almost everything that people tend to tell her. She also knows that Lina and Goury tend to use her for her money.

Xellos – A high level Mazoku and a priest of the “Greater Beast Zelas-Metallium”. Also known as Beastmaster Xellos and is literally a frienemy of Lina and friends. When he seems like he’s helping, he seems to have some sort of ulterior motive.

Pokota – An animal-like creature who has the ability to use great power like Lina but has no control over it. But there is more to this creature…

Wizer – A special investigator who is on a hot trail pursuing Lina Inverse to arrest her for being Lina Inverse.

“The Slayers Revolution” comes with the complete season, episodes 1-13 on two Blu-ray discs. Here are the spoiler-less summaries of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – Amazing! The Astonishing Dragon Slave?! – Lina confronts a special investigator who wants to arrest her and both Lina and Goury reunite with Zelgadis and Amelia.
  • EPISODE 2 – Because! You’re Lina Inverse, That’s Why? – Lina vs. Pokota.
  • EPISODE 3- Chase! The Endless Pursuit! – Lina takes on a man who has magical power over animals.
  • EPISODE 4 – Drifter! Who’s Chasing Whom?! – Amelia wants to help Pokota.
  • EPISODE 5 – Eternal! The Forever-Sleeping Forest! – Lina and friends learn the story behind Pokota and his village.
  • EPISODE 6 – Fall On! Strange Festival! Bizarre Festival? Push That Ball Up! – Lina and friends including Pokota become involved with a villages ball pushing contest.
  • EPISODE 7 – Gorgeous! The Target Luxury Liner – Lina and friends including Pokota ride on a luxury liner but they don’t know that there is a killer(s) in the midst.
  • EPISODE 8 – Hurry Up! Run Through! No, Don’t? – Wizer and Xellos team up!
  • EPISODE 9 – Insider! The One Who Knows the Truth! – Pokota finds out Duclis’s motivation of working with the enemy.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 10 – Judgment! The Silver One Rises Again! – Lina and friends prepare for their big battle.
  • EPISODE 11 – Keep Out! The Demon Beast Looms! – The demon beast has awaken!
  • EPISODE 12 – Legacy! Decisive Battle in Seyruun! – Lena and Pokota take on the demon beast!
  • EPISODE 13 – Misty! The Blades Are Brought Down – Lena and friends take on the demon beast. The battle continues!

VIDEO:

Considering “The Slayers Revolution” was released 11 years after “The Slayers Try” (1997), one would  and should expect a major update to the animation.  The anime series features  a much more bolder stroke around the characters, a more vibrant color pallet and better shading and detail.  Artistic backgrounds are fine but for a series such as “The Slayers”, typically there are a lot of closeup shots of the characters.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to review the DVD version and what was evident were the artifacts, banding and edge enhancement.  For the Blu-ray version of “The Slayers Revolution”, the series is presented in 1:78:1 108p High Definition and is an upscaled anime on BD release.  The edge enhancement is still visible, as is the banding but the artifacts are not as evident.

But the series on Blu-ray does feature a vibrant color pallet and for a anime TV series, the picture quality does stand out quite a bit compared to the DVD release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, the series is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  The series is primarily front and center channel driven but I did notice how certain scenes, ie. large halls in which the sound is nicely echoed through the halls.  Also, other ambiance such as crowds and music can be heard through the surround channels.  Especially, the use of magic can be heard through the surround channels.

For the most part, the series is dialogue driven and dialogue and music is crisp and clear via lossless and even the Japanese soundtrack sounds much more richer and well-balanced.  So, there is a definite difference audio wise compared to the original DVD release.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Slayers Revolution” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening Song – Textless Songs for “Plenty of Grit”
  • Textless Closing Song – Textless Songs for “Revolution”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

“Slayers” will always be an anime series that I will always enjoy. I was heavily into the series back in the 90’s and I know there had been this lull of when I didn’t catch anything related to the series but just a few related films. But watching this series again, definitely brought back memories of catching the series at an anime con meeting, an anime convention, buying multiple versions to get the subtitled and English dubbed versions. I really enjoyed this series.

But it takes some dedication. Where a long anime series such as “Dragon Ball Z” can have a conclusion, the fact that this series has literally been on television or released in some format for the last 15 years, you really have to be a dedicated fan to following a series this long.

In fact, each season is a story arc in itself but for the most part, they are stand-alone episodes and typically the final three or four episodes is where everything tends to lead to a major battle. And despite these episodes being over a decade old, the anime still holds up today. And the fact that you can own all three seasons in a single box set for a great price is also another incentive.

“The Slayers Revolution” definitely improves in animation and image clarity. But considering this anime series was released in 2008 and the third season “The Slayers Try” was last aired on television back in 1997, anime quality has changed a lot since then.

It would have been nice if there was a short synopsis for newer viewers not familiar with the past three seasons to know the relationship of all characters but if you haven’t seen any of the last three seasons of “The Slayers”, I think you can easily get by, as the main focus of this fourth season is Lina and the gang going after a creature named Pokota and then finding out his true identity and his background.

The Blu-ray is definitely a major improvement over the DVD version video and audio-wise.  But once again, for those hardcore anime on Blu-ray fans who are expecting a lot, it’s important to remind everyone that this is a TV series and it’s not going to look spectacular when compared to an anime film or OVA.  But still, if you have watched the previous three seasons of “The Slayers” and are now just jumping in, then the Blu-ray is recommended.

In fact, if you are not too picky and still want a humorous anime series, I still recommend checking out “The Slayers Revolution” because it is a humorous series and it’s just fun to watch.

Overall, “The Slayers Revolution” is a series that fans of the original series have wanted for a long time. Because the manga series of “The Slayers Evolution-R” is still being published in Japan, fans hoping for some sort of finality or conclusion will probably have to wait even longer. But for those who are in it for the adventure and crazy hi-jinks and of course, more destruction via Lina Inverse will definitely enjoy this latest series.

Fans of “The Slayers” anime series who have waited a long time for a new fourth season, “The Slayers Revolution” is recommended!

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