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Initial D Legend 1: Awakening (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 7, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who are fans of “Initial D” or those who are curious about the series, will no doubt want to check out this more recent offering of an “Initial D” storyline featuring the race between the Akina Speed Stars vs. the Akagi Red Suns. “Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is a film worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © 2017 Sentai Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Initial D Legend 1: Awakening

DURATION: 60 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 L

Release Date: December 5, 2017


Originally Created by Shuichi Shigeno

Directed by Masamitsu Hidaka

Script by Mayori Sekijima

Music by Akio Dobashi

Character Design: Koji Haneda

Art Director: Shinichi Uehara

Chief Animation Director: Koji Haneda

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS, SANZIGEN Animation Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mamoru Miyano/Joel McDonald as Takumi Fujiwara

Daisuke Ono/J. Michael Tatum as Ryōsuke Takahashi

Hiroaki Hirata/Bill Wise as Bunta Fujiwara

Hiroshi Tsuchida/Eric Vale as Kōichirō Iketani

Junichi Suwabe/Brian Mountbatten as Takeshi Nakazato

Maaya Uchida/Brina Palencia as Natsuki Mogi

Minoru Shiraishi/Josh Grelle as Itsuki Takeuchi

Yūichi Nakamura/Gray G. Haddock as Keisuke Takahashi


In Initial D Legend 1: Awakening, when aspiring racer Koichiro Iketani witnesses an unplanned street duel between Keisuke Takahashi, a member of a rival race team, and a mysterious Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86, Koichiro’s totally blown away by the skill of the 86’s driver. What Koichiro doesn’t know is that the driver is fellow gas station attendant Takumi Fujiwara, who was making a late-night tofu delivery for his father, a legendary Mt. Akina driver himself.Unforeseen events are about to springboard Takumi into the center of the street-racing world, turning the rivalry between Iketani’s Akina Speedsters and Takahashi’s Akagi Red Suns into an all-out street war! The legendary series that introduced the west to the sport of drift racing is reinvented in an all new feature film that’s even faster and more furious than ever before: NEW THEATRICAL MOVIE INITIAL D LEGEND 1: AWAKENING! Initial D Legend 2: Racer Preview.


For over 15 years, “Initial D” has been a favorite anime series for those interested in drag racing and drifting. Originally created by mangaka Shuichi Shigeno and serialized in Kodansha’s “Young Magazine” back in 1995 and still ongoing in Japan, the first season of “Initial D” was shown on television in 1998.

In 2014, it was announced that a new Initial D film would be released and it would be a three part story based on Shuichi Shigeno’s manga.

The movie is more or less a retelling of the earl stages of the manga and now “Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The manga and anime is about Japanese street racing and focuses on a teenager named Takumi Fujiwara, son of Bunta Fujiwara, who owns a tofu shop. Takumi works at a gas station but when he’s at home, he delivers tofu at 4:00 a.m. and is known to speed through the mountain slopes of Mt. Akitna at high speed driving his father’s AE86 Trueno.

The purpose of this is that his father Bunta has wanted to develop his driving skills and sure enough, his skill is top notch.

But for Takumi, although he has been riding and delivery tofu for a long time and has sharp driving skills, driving fast and getting from point a to point b was merely doing it for his father and not for the sake of trying to race.

But when a well-known group of street racers known as the Akagi Red Suns come to visit Mt. Akina and Keisuke Takahashi of the Akagi RedSuns finds himself racing against a mysterious Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 leaving Keisuke defeated.

Now fired up, Keisuke Takashi wants to know who drives the AE86 and wants to race him.

Meanwhile, the Akina Speed Stars are visited by Keisuke Takahashi of the Akagi Redsuns for a joint race but in reality, its Keisuke’s challenge to whoever beat him with the AE86.

With news of an AE86 beating Keisuke Takahashi (as witnessed by Akina Speedstars leader, Koichiro Iketani), Bunta can’t help but talk about it.  But for Takumi, he has no idea with an AE86 is (unaware that the Trueno he drives is an AE86).

In dire need of a member who exceeds in downhill driving after their team leader Iketani gets involved in an accident. He learns from his boss at the gas station, Yuichi Tachibana, that the AE86 is a tofu delivery vehicle owned by Bunta Fujiwara. This leads to Iketani to plead with Bunta to race against Keisuke (unaware that Bunta is no longer delivering the food, nor does Iketani know that Takumi is Bunta’s son and is responsible for doing the deliveries).

Meanwhile, Takumi is getting closer to Natsuki and wants to take her out on a date and needs to borrow the Trueno AE86.  But his father said he can in one condition…he must use the car and race against Keisuke Takahashi.

Who will race for the pride of Akina against Keisuke Takahashi of the Akagi RedSuns?


VIDEO:

“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is presented in 1080p High Definition and as one can expect from a newer film, the old artwork and CG that was utilized in the past has been modernized with better animation for the race scenes.  The character designs are much closer to the manga series and are well-shaded and the background artwork is also a major improvement.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  The lossless audio features crystal clear audio and also utilizing the surround channels for the rev of engines and the squealing of tires but also outdoor ambiance.

It’s important to note that both Japanese and English voice actors from the past have all been replaced, with the exception of Joel McDonald who was the voice actor of Takumi Fujiwara, J. Michael Tatum who was the voice of Ryosuke Takahashi and Brina Palence (voice of Natsuki) in the original English dub soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” comes with no significant special features but the teaser that was at the end of the Japanese credits for the film is featured.  Featuring the appearance of Myogi NightKids Takeshi Nakazato who no doubt wants to take on the person racing with an AE86.

EXTRAS:

“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


“Initial D” is an anime classic. I’ve watched this series when it first came out and I still don’t get bored by watching it. I’ve played the video games and there is something about the stoic underdog, Takumi Fujiwara, going from food delivery to become a top-notch racer.

But as the anime series was different and cut out a lot of backstory for the characters as featured in the manga.  And with the new “Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” focused on the race between the Mt. Akina Speed Stars vs. the Akagi Red Suns, the story doesn’t stray too much into backstories.

No focus on Natsuki’s major secret, no focus on Ryosuke’s brother Keisuke or their friend Kenji. Nor does the film get into nicknames such as Bunta’s “Ghost of Akina” or Ryosuke’s “White Comet of Akagi”.

This is a film that strictly gets to the race between both groups and who will be racing for the Mt. Akina Speed Stars against Ryosuke Takahashi and it’s an hour long film.

The Blu-ray features better artwork and background artwork, with the former respectful to the original manga series.  While the film in Japan featured a teaser for the second film at the end credits, that teaser has been made into a special feature.

Was there anything I didn’t like about the film?  Possibly the 60 minute duration, I felt that they could have added another 30 minutes at least because it was too short.  And because the film was released during the film’s 20th year anniversary, so I wish there were more special features included.

Overall, for those who are fans of “Initial D” or those who are curious about the series, will no doubt want to check out this more recent offering of an “Initial D” storyline featuring the race between the Akina Speed Stars vs. the Akagi Red Suns.

“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is a film worth checking out!

Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Review)

December 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Image courtesy of  2018 © REKI KAWAHARA/PUBLISHED BY KADOKAWA CORPORATION ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO MOVIE Project. © RK/KC AMW/SM


TITLE: Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2017

DURATION: 120 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

Release Date: December 19, 2017


Originally created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Scenario by Reki Kawahara, Tomohiko Ito

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design: Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima

Chief Animation Director: Shingo Adachi

Sound Director: Yoshikazu Iwanami

CGI Director: Ryuta Undo

Director of Photography: Kentaro Waki

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu/Cherami Leigh as Asuna Yūki

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook as Kazuto Kirigaya/Kirito

Ayahi Takagaki/Sarah Ann Williams as Rika Shinozaki/Lizbeth

Ayana Taketatsu/Cassandra Morris as Suguha Kirigaya/Leafa

Hiroaki Hirata/Kirk Thornton as Klein

Hiroki Yasumoto/Patrick Seitz as Andrew Gilbert Mills/Agil

Kanae Itō/Stephanie Sheh as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Shino Asada/Sinon

Rina Hidaka/Christine Marie Cabanos as Keiko Ayano/Silica

Sayaka Kanda/Ryan Bartley as Yuna

Takeshi Kaga/Jamieson Price as Professor Shigemura

Yoshio Inoue/Chris Patton as Eiji

Kouichi Yamadera/Marc Diraison as Akihiko Kayaba


After its overwhelmingly successful worldwide theatrical release, Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale- makes its debut on Blu-ray and DVD!

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

Kirito is about to join Asuna and the others as an Ordinal Scale player, but they’re about to find out that it isn’t all fun and games…


The year 2026.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is “Sword Art Online”?

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

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

This time using his real name on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeku Bunko label from April 10, 2009 and a spin-off series in 2012. The series has since spawned a total of ten manga adaptations. The anime series produced by A-1 Pictures was released in Japan between July and December 2012 and airing on Adult Swim’s Toonami in July 27, 2013.  And in 2014-2015, a 24-episode series titled “Sword Art Online II” aired on television.  And since then a TV special has been released.

In addition, a total of ten video games have been released and it was announced that an American live-action TV adaptation of “Sword Art Online” is being created.

And the animated film “Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale” was produced by A-1 Pictures and was directed by Tomohiko Ito and was released in Japan, Southeast Asia and Germany back in February 2017.

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

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

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


VIDEO:

“Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Because of the ever changing landscape within the online game, there is a good balance between well-painted buildings and interiors and also beautiful painted backgrounds for outdoor scenes. Black levels are nice and deep but its the colorful palette and the beautiful backgrounds that captivate you. Wonderful anime production from A-1 Pictures.

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  Dialogue and musical soundtrack are crystal clear in English and Japanese, while action sequences utilize the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” features the following special features:

  • Sword Art Offline – Ordinal Scale – (14:27) Featuring Asuna and Kirito in super deformed format discussing the film.
  • PV & CM Colletions
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by the Japanese staff.  Yoshitsugu Tomatsu (Kirito), Haruka Tomatsu (Asuna) and Tomohiko Ito (Director)

EXTRAS:

This limited Edition of “Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale” contains a Bonus Music CD, 60-page deluxe booklet, Bushiroad’s Weiß Schwarz Exclusive Collectible PR Card (while supplies last), and rigid box.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animation is fantastic as A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with capturing emotion in the faces of the characters but also within action sequences.  Voice acting is wonderful for both Japanese and English soundtracks.

If there was anything that I didn’t get into all that much in regards to “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is the overuse of AI idol singer Yuna (but I know that is quite subjective to the viewer).

Music plays a big part in the film and where idol singers through battle is something we are accustomed to seeing in “Macross” anime series or film, it was not something I expected all that much in “Sword Art Online” and felt it was done a little bit too much for my tastes but at the same time, I’m sure it benefits Aniplex for music soundtrack sales and I’m sure fans who loved the music in the film will no doubt be wanting the soundtrack.

The film looks fantastic and vibrant on Blu-ray, while the soundtrack is is presented in both Japanese and English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and dialogue and musical score are crystal clear.  Surround channels are well-utilized during the action sequences.

And for special features, you get the audio commentary and special short animation of “Sword Art OFFline”.  But for the hardcore fans who love the music for the film, the musical soundtrack for “Ordinal Scale” is included.  As well as an awesome 60-page deluxe booklet!

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

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

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

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

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Three

DURATION: Episodes 541-552 (Duration: 300 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 10, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Kazuya Nakai/Christopher Sabat as Roronoa Zoro

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


Fish are not friends when they’re violent pirates!

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


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

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

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

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 19th season and a total of 809 episodes have been aired in Japan.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Three” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

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

DISC 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two

DURATION: Episodes 529-540 (Duration: 300 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: August 15, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Kazuya Nakai/Christopher Sabat as Roronoa Zoro

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


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


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

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

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

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 19th season and a total of 809 episodes have been aired in Japan.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

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

DISC 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates reunite two years later and demonstrate their new skills that they have learned.  But what happens when the crew travels to their destination…Fishman Island?  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! Recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One

DURATION: Episodes 517-528 (Duration: 300 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: June 20, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Kazuya Nakai/Christopher Sabat as Roronoa Zoro

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


The human-hating Hordy Jones and his army of 100,000 troops has Fishman Island’s royal family by the gills. Luckily, the Straw Hats make it in time to show off a boatload of powerful new moves! But just when Luffy kicks into gear, an ancient ship nearly twice the size of the island heads straight for Shirahoshi. Only the cowardly mermaid can guide the vessel away before it crushes them all.


It has been two years since Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates has been together and now, the promised day of reuniting has arrived and the group head back to the seas.  But when they find out a group has been impersonating them, the group has chance to show how much they have improved in the past two years.

Also, what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates head to their latest destination….Fishman Island?

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 19th season and a total of 799 episodes have been aired in Japan.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 519 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Christopher Sabat (voice of Zoro), Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper) and Eric Vale (voice of Sanji).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece Cast Goes to Matsuricon 2016: Live Dub – (18:59) The One Piece cast attend Matsuricon in Columbus, Ohio as the even is celebratine a pirate theme and the cast take part in a live dub in front of their fans.
  • EPISODE 526 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Sonny Strait (voice of Usopp) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook).
  • Textless Opening Song “We Go!” Ver. 1 and 2

With the release of “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One”, the episodes feature the reunion of the Straw Hat Pirates (featuring episodes 517-528). Note: In Japan, this arc of episodes is season 15.

Two years have passed since the War at Marineford and as the Straw Hat Pirates promised, they will reunite after they train for two years.  But the group finds out that someone has been impersonating them.  What happens when the Straw Hat Pirates come across the Fake Straw Hat Pirates?

The next storyline features the group together and go on aboard the Thousand Sunny to their destination, Fishman Island.  But they are being pursued by a pirate named Caribou and his crew.  But waiting for them in the sea is a large Kraken known for crushing ships, but what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates and the Kraken confront each other?

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries but possibly the coolest inclusion is the Matsuricon 2016: Live Dub.  One can hope that Funimation continues this for upcoming releases of “One Piece” or other titles!

Overall, “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates reunite two years later and demonstrate their new skills that they have learned.  But what happens when the crew travels to their destination…Fishman Island?  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! Recommended!

One Piece: Heart of Gold (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Definitely one of the more exciting “One Piece” films I have watched in a decade and definitely the best looking “One Piece” film created. If you are looking for a “One Piece” film with action, wonderful animation and awesome voice acting, definitely give “One Piece Film Gold” a try!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: One Piece: Heart of Gold

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 130 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Tatsuya Nagamine

Script by Tsutomu Kuroiwa

Music by Kohei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi, Yasunori Iwasaki

Character Design by Keiichi Ichikawa

Art Director: Yoshito Watanabe, Yukako Ogawa

Chief Animation Director: Keiichi Ichikawa

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Akron Watson as Psycho P

Kiko Mizuhara/Kenneisha Thompson as Naomi Drunk

Kiyohiko Shibukawa/Bryn Apprill as Ashie Miskina

Minami Hamabe/Sara Ragsdale as Orga Miskina

Shun Oguri/Troy Hughes as Mad Treasure



“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of over 776 episodes having been aired in Japan. Several animated films, many video games and for the most part, a very successful anime/manga series worldwide.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.

To help promote the 13th “One Piece” film titled “One Piece Film Gold”, a TV special (the eleventh) was released on television in July 2016.

The film begins with the World Government and a man known as Mad Treasure pursuing a girl named Myskina Olga.  The reason why they are pursuing her is she knows the location of the Pure Gold, a substance that can buy the entire world.

While managing to escape, she approaches the Straw Hat Pirates and they make a deal to split the profits if they can find the Pure Gold.

And so it leads the group to the lost island of Alchemi, which is located inside the stomach of a large anglerfish known as Bonbori.

Unfortunately, Luffy and Olga are separated from the others but while hanging out, Luffy learns from Olga that she is actually 200 years old and she harbors a grudge towards her father for the death of her mother and most of all, making the Pure Gold which was eaten by Bonbori.

As Mad Treasure and his crew are able to capture Olga and the Straw Hat Pirates, Luffy who is on his own ends up meeting Myskina Acer, Olga’s father.  Who has no idea that his daughter is still alive.  Meanwhile, Zoro and Sanji who were not captured, try to stage a rescue attempt.  But standing in their way are Mad Treasure’s subordinates, Naomi Drunk and Psycho P.

Will Olga and the Straw Hat Pirates discover the Pure Gold?


VIDEO:

“One Piece: Heart of Gold” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the film looks vibrant. While a TV special, the animation looks fantastic and not too soft.  Colors look great!  Animation production from Toei Animation is magnificent!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“One Piece: Heart of Gold” is presented in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 . Both soundtracks are fantastic and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the center, front and surround channels. But of course, with the English track having a 5.1 soundtrack is the better of the two.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“One Piece Film: Heart of Gold” comes with a theatrical trailer.

EXTRAS:

“One Piece Film Gold” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


The 11th “One Piece” TV special makes its way to North America along with the 13th “One Piece” film titled “One Piece Film Gold” and serves as correlation to promote the film.

Entertaining, fun and action-packed, the series features the Straw Hat Pirates teaming up with a young girl named Olga, who looks very young but is actually 200 years old and many people are pursuing her because she know the location of Pure Gold, which will allow anyone to buy the world.

While a fun film, Olga is literally a brat.  Often arguing or critical, it’s part of her life of being alone since the death of her parents.  And she has harbored a grunge towards her father because of the death of her mother.

While Luffy and Olga search for the Pure Gold, the others (except Sanji and Zoro) are captured by the main antagonist of the film, Mad Treasure.  A formidable opponent, there to fight for their boss are Naomi Drunk and Psycho P.

For the most part, the special is like other “One Piece” films with a balance of humor and action but the only thing that was not as fun to watch was Olga, who is pretty much a major brat.  But when you see her start to settle down as she sees others who are willing to fight for what they believe in.

While I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t watch “One Piece Film Gold”, you will see a few characters from the film mentioned and certain actions that lead to the group visiting the location featured in the film.  So, there is a solid connection from special to film and most importantly, make sure you watch the film after the ending credits, as there is a major teaser scene for “One Piece Film Gold”.

As for the Blu-ray, surprisingly there are no special features.  It’s a barebones Blu-ray release that looks and sounds good in HD.  Unfortunately, aside from the single trailer, there are no special features included.

Overall, an action-packed, entertaining and fun “One Piece” TV special worth watching.  Especially if you are a big fan of the anime/manga series!

One Piece Film Gold (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Definitely one of the more exciting “One Piece” films I have watched in a decade and definitely the best looking “One Piece” film created. If you are looking for a “One Piece” film with action, wonderful animation and awesome voice acting, definitely give “One Piece Film Gold” a try!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: One Piece Film Gold

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 2016

DURATION: 120 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUnimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto

Script by Tsutomu Kuroiwa

Music by Yuuki Hayashi

Character Design by Masayuki Sato

Art Director: Kazuo Ogura 

Chief Animation Director: Masayuki Sato

Mechanical Design: Hiori Denforword Akishino 

Art Design by Nobuhito Sue

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard



“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of over 776 episodes having been aired in Japan.  Several animated films, many video games and for the most part, a very successful anime/manga series worldwide.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.

And here we are with the latest film (2016) titled “One Piece Film Gold”, the 13th “One Piece Film” which will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and HD Digital in May 2017.

The film begins with the Straw Hat Pirates arriving at Gran Tesoro, a large entertainment city-ship which is owned and ruled by Gild Tesoro.

When the team arrive to the music of Tesoro and Carina, they are suddenly attacked by enemy pirates.  The group show their battle and might as a team and beat the pirates and are visited by a concierge named Baccarat.  Baccarat offers the Straw Hat Pirates VIP access to Gran Tesoro due to the group’s infamy.

When Gild Tesoro challenges the group to a dice game where they can become millionaires, the hotel will give them $300 million to spend.

When the group takes on the challenge, they start to win. Gran Tesoro offers a deal, if they win a challenge they get 10x of what they have. But when they bet it all on the competition and Gran Tesoro uses her Devil Fruit powers to take away Luffy’s luck and the group loses, Gran Tesoro demands the Straw Hat Pirates to pay for losing the $320 million they lost.  But the group accuses Baccarat of cheating and she admits to them that she used her power to make Luffy unlucky.

The group fights Tesoro and his executives, Baccarat, Tanaka and Dice but the executives outsmart the Straw Hat Pirates and they are beaten.

When Roronoa Zoro goes to attack Tesoro, he shows them his power of manipulating gold and encases Zoro’s legs.  And now, Tesoro gives the Straw Hat Pirates ’till 12:00 the following day to pay their debt.  If they don’t, Zoro will be executed.

Knowing they need money, Nami spots an former friend named Carina from her past.  Carina tells the group that Tesoro posesses 20% of the world’s wealth and keeps his riches in a suite on top of the hotel.  She offers to help the Straw Hat pirates to break into the hotel and steal the money to help repay their debut.

But can the group pull out this major heist?


VIDEO:

“One Piece Film Gold” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the film looks vibrant. Colors look fantastic in HD and his is probably the most detailed “One Piece” film that I have seen yet.  Great balance of CG for the detailed backgrounds, animation is well done and for the most part, character designs are great.

Overall, animation production from Toei Animation is magnificent!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“One Piece Film Gold” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 . Both soundtracks are fantastic and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the center, front and surround channels.  Music plays a big part in this film, as well as action.  So, this is no doubt one of the better lossless soundtracks I have heard in a “One Piece” film.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“One Piece Film Gold” comes with the following special features:

  • Place Your Bets on the Straw Hats – (28:06) A featurette featuring the English dub voice actors: Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Luffy), Christopher R. Sabat (voice of Roronoa Zoro), Eric Vale (voice of Sanji), Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook), Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper), Stephanie Young (voice of Nico Robin), Luci Christian (voice of Nami) and Sonny Strait (voice of Usopp).
  • Trailers – Funimation trailers.

EXTRAS:

“One Piece Film Gold” comes with the Blu-ray, DVD and Ultraviolet Digital HD version of the film.


“One Piece” meets “Oceans Eleven”.

Where the majority of “One Piece” films tend to have a story about the team finding ways to outsmart their antagonist and saving locals who can’t fight for themselves, “One Piece Film Gold” is consistent with the other films with a powerful antagonist and his group, but this time, what makes the film so different is that the storyline is about outsmarting the other opponent.

Set in a huge ship that functions as a giant casino, the whole area is ruled by Grand Tesoro.  A cruel ruler who uses his Devil Fruit powers of controlling gold and able to control it and manipulate it.  Which makes him dangerous.  To make things worse, he has a group of executives such as Baccarat who makes people lose with her Devil Fruit power to make those unlucky.  And so many people become slaves (including their families and children) to Grand Tesoro to pay off their debt.

And now, Tesoro and his group has created a ruse and used deception to win against the Straw Hat Pirates and now they are in debt.

In this case, the Straw Hat Pirates are in bad situation as Grand Tesoro is threatening to execute Rorona Zoro if the group can’t come up with $320 million to pay off their debt.

The group plans to do the impossible by stealing from Grand Tesoro as his riches are kept in a suite on the top of the hotel.  And they must do it with the help of a thief named Carina that Nami knows from her past.

And just when you think the Straw Hat Pirates have enough with Tesoro and his executive team to fight against, thinks are even more complicated when the Marines arrive.

“One Piece Film Gold” is no doubt the best looking “One Piece” film I have so far.  The amount of detail for the art backgrounds and the characters are wonderfully detailed and shaded.  Toei Animation definitely put a lot of time and effort in the making of this film.

Special features include a half hour featurette with the English dub voice cast.  And you get the Blu-ray, DVD and Ultraviolet Digital HD version of the film.

Overall, definitely one of the more exciting “One Piece” films I have watched in a decade (my favorite is still the eight film “One Piece Movie: The Desert Princess and the Pirates: Adventures in Alabasta”) and definitely the best looking “One Piece” film created.  If you are looking for a “One Piece” film with action, wonderful animation and awesome voice acting, definitely give “One Piece Film Gold” a try!

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

March 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


Originally created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Scenario by Reki Kawahara, Tomohiko Ito

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design: Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima

Chief Animation Director: Shingo Adachi

Sound Director: Yoshikazu Iwanami

CGI Director: Ryuta Undo

Director of Photography: Kentaro Waki

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu as Asuna Yūki

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Kazuto Kirigaya/Kirito

Ayahi Takagaki as Rika Shinozaki/Lizbeth

Ayana Taketatsu as Suguha Kirigaya/Leafa

Hiroaki Hirata as Klein

Hiroki Yasumoto as Andrew Gilbert Mills/Agil

Kanae Itō as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro as Shino Asada/Sinon

Rina Hidaka as Keiko Ayano/Silica

Sayaka Kanda as Yuna

Takeshi Kaga as Professor Shigemura

Yoshio Inoue as Eiji

Kouichi Yamadera as Akihiko Kayaba


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


The year 2026.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is “Sword Art Online” about:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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