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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!

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

February 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates must become stronger and train harder for the next two years before reuniting. But will they be able to get the training to become stronger?

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five

DURATION: Episodes 505-516 (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: December 13, 2016


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

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 tragedy at Marineford sends shockwaves around the world, and the Straw Hats struggle desperately to meet again in Luffy’s most heart-wrenching time of grief.

Incapable of protecting his friends, Luffy questions his ability to become the King of the Pirates. His crew members, scattered to the farthest reaches of the globe, are more determined than ever to keep their promise and return to Sabaody Archipelago in three days. But when ”Dark King” Rayleigh offers Luffy a stern suggestion, Luffy must choose between reuniting with his friends or joining Rayleigh in training. Luffy’s decision drives him back to Marineford, where he pays his respects to the fallen and sends a secret message to his friends. The news stirs enemies from all walks of life. Monkey D. Luffy is ringing in the New Age!


As Luffy mourns the death of his brother, the latest episodes featured on “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five” features on the aftermath as Luffy wants to train harder for the next two years, so he can protect those he cares about.

As news of Ace’s death starts to reach the Straw Hat Pirates, they also know that with two years left, until they all meet again, they must get stronger and train.

Meanwhile, Luffy’ makes a daring appearance at Marineford to deliver a message throughout the world.

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 18th season and a total of 776 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 Eight, Voyage Five” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 506 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper) and Christopher R. Sabat (voice of Zoro).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece Outtakes: Part 1 – (10:50) Featuring outtakes with the English dub talent for the Straw Hat Pirates.
  • Episode 515 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook) and Sonny Strait (voice of Usopp).
  • Textless Opening Song – “Fight Together”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five”, the episodes are the final episodes of the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 505-516) as this volume features the aftermath of Ace’s death and Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates know they have two years until they reunite, but with the two years, they must do all that’s necessary to become stronger.

As Luffy needs to get a message to the Straw Hat Pirates, he must take a bold trip to Marineford. Meanwhile, Luffy must learn a new skill in order to become a stronger leader and fighter. And Rayleigh, will do whatever is possible to get Luffy ready.

Chopper must train in Birdie Kingdom and learn more medicine, on Weatheria, Nami must learn on how to become a better navigator and learn from the scientists, on Kurakiri Island, Franky must learn new skills from Dr. Vegapunk’s inventions, on Kamabakka Kingdom, Sanji must learn from Ivankov about newkama cooking, in the Tehna Gehna Kingdom, Brook must train himself to reach 40 degrees and in the Bowin Islands, despite gaining a lot of weight, Usopp is trained by Heracules to become stronger. And Robin joins up with the Revolutionaries at East Blue’s large bridge to improve herself before returning to the group.

As this DVD volume prepares viewers for Season 15 (Japan) and fastforwards two years later, the volume focuses on Luffy and the Strawhat Pirates and their commitment to get stronger and train harder for the next two years.

The episodes also bring back footage from the past as they remember why they joined the Straw Hat Pirates and how Luffy was there for them. But also seeing pirates and even admirals who will become significant characters in the series.

For “One Piece” fans, this latest volume finally showcases the Straw Hat Pirates and seeing what they have been up to since each of them went their separate ways and making a vow to reunite a few years years later.

Needless to say, “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

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 an outtakes featurette.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Five” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates must become stronger and train harder for the next two years before reuniting. But will they be able to get the training to become stronger?

God Eater Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting. Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back. But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance. A thrilling, action-packed anime series so far, “God Eater” vol. 1 and 2 are highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © BNEI/PROJECT G.E. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: God Eater Vol. 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 8-13 (141 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: January 31, 2017


Director: Takayuki Hirao

Script by Kei Tsunematsu, Takayuki Hirao

Music by Go Shiina

Original Character Design by Koichi Itakura

Character Design by Keita Shimizu

Art Director: Masaru Yanaka

Anime Production: ufotable


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Lenka Utsugi

Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Tsubaki Amamiya

Chiaki Omigawa as Licca Kusunoki

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Lucien Dodge as Kōta Fujiki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kyle Hebert as Lindow Amamiya

Kanae Itō/Erika Harlacher as Hibari Takeda

Kazuya Nakai/Crispin Freeman as Soma Schicksal

Maaya Sakamoto/Cherami Leigh as Alisa Illinichina Amiella

Rica Fukami/Wendee Lee as Aisha Gauche

Rikiya Koyama/Spike Spencer as Johannes von Schicksal

Sayaka Ohara as Sakuya

Taiten Kusunoki as Paylor Sakaki

Tomohisa Asou as Daigo Oguruma


After the previous encounter with Dyaus Pita that left them both physically and mentally scarred, Lenka and Alisa both return to the base. Feeling there might be a correlation with the Aragami’s behaviors, Lindow decides to go off the reservation and investigate the truth behind the “Aegis Project.” At the same time, Director Johannes Von Schicksal announces the plan to accelerate the completion of the Aegis Project through Operation Meteorite – a means to wipe out a large amount of Aragami and receive their cores.

With newfound resolve, Lenka returns to the battlefield with his new God Arc, designed by Dr. Paylor Sakaki. However, when Lenka is reunited with his teammates, what awaits them is a twisted fate, and the aura of despair brought on by the black Vajra…

The epic conclusion to the anime series based on the best-selling video game God Eater by Bandai Namco Entertainment!


How does the past affect the present?

In the second half of “God Eater”, we learn how Johannes, Sakaki and Aisha were experimenting with the Managam Project and the gathering of Oracle Cells began and how the first Aragami emerged.

And how Lenka’s heightened compatibility is caused by God Arc’s Oracle cells invading his body, but when he uses this power, it may lead quickly to an earlier death the more he uses his God Arc.

Also, the tragic past of Lenka is revealed.  And Lenka and friends must take on Pita.

All this and more in conclusion to the first season of “God Eater”!

What is “God Eater” about?

In 2010, “God Eater”, a sci-fi adventure video game series developed by Shift and published by Bandai Namco was released in the U.S. for the Sony PSP.

Since then, several “God Eater” video games have been released and in 2015, an anime series created by ufotable aired on television in July 2015.

The series is directed by Takayuki Hirao (“Death Note”, “Garden of Sinners”, “Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene”), script by Takayuki Hirao (“Magicl Sisters Yoyo & Nene”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”) and, character design by Keita Shimizu (“ef: a tale of memories”, “REC”, “Negima!?”), art direction by Masaru Yanaka (“Ghost Hunt”, “Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~”, “Samurai Girls”) and music by Go Shiina (“Kyousougiga”, “Tales of Zestiria the X”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”).

A total of 13 episodes were created and now, “God Eater” vol. 1 (featuring the first seven episodes) will be released on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

The series is set in 2071, and the world has been nearly destroyed by mysterious monsters known as Aragami.

To fight these Aragami, an organization known as Fenrir has God Eaters, people who can wield “God Arc” weapons made from Aragami cells to exterminate them.

And it is being discovered that certain people, known as New Types, can wield God Arc’s and switch from gun and blade form.

The series revolves around a young man named Lenka Utsugi, who desperately wants to destroy all Aragami. But unfortunately, he is not ready for battle despite his hot headed temper that wants to fight and destroy them.

Lenka and Kota Fujiki are sent to training under a stern woman named Tsubaki. And as Lenka is always determined of wanting to help anyone, unfortunately that leads him to make rash decisions which would let him be killed during training mode.

This is unacceptable and when Lenka breaks orders from Tsubaki to not fight, while trying to fight and rescue someone from the Aragami, he reveals that he is a New Type.

But because he’s not fully-trained, he is almost killed until he is rescued by the First Unit of God Eaters, Soma, Lindow and Sakuya.

But because Lenka disobeyed orders, he is jailed and is awaiting court-martial and may need to surrender his God Arc. But because of his New Type abilities and that New Type users are a rarity, he is given a second chance to fight, must team up with Russia’s New Type, Alisa Illinichina Amiella. Another person who has a hot-temper and disregards rules.

And as Lenka and Alisa join a team of God Eaters, can these New Type God Eaters work together and defeat the Aragami but also rescue many human lives?

Also, is there someone pulling the strings behind-the-scenes and are wanting the Aragami to succeed?


VIDEO:

“God Eater” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and I thought the Aragami designs were very awesome.

But for the most part, character designs and background art for “God Eater” look fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“God Eater” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“God Eater” vol. 2 comes with the following special features:

  • God Eater Extra 02 Bonus Part A – (10:57) Interviews with Go Shiina and Naomi Kaitani about the music of the series.
  • God Eater Extra 02 Bonus Part B – (8:59) Featuring an interview with the band Ghost Oracle Drive (bassist Takenori Sakauchi, guitarist Kazuki Sato, drummer Toshiyuki Wakayama and vocalist Kenta Matsukuma).
  • God Eater Extra 03 – (23:25) A special episode summary of the series and its characters with interviews with the anime staff and more.
  • Textless Opening and Endings

EXTRAS:

“God Eater” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase and a 20-page deluxe booklet.


Having played “God Eater” on the Sony PSP and Sony Vita, I have to say that the “God Eater” anime series had made me enjoy the series even more, now that we have a much more intuitive storyline that is not only addicting but action-packed.

While there is some level of banality of an unknown hero that fights for an organization and no one knows if the newcomer is ready for battle, which many have seen in anime such as “Blue Demon” and “Seraph of the Vampire”, “God Eater” is an anime series that is much more deeper, violent and for the most part, humanity is on the losing side of the battle against these monstrous entities known as Aragami.

The main protagonist is Lenka Utsugi, a boy raised on the poor side of town, despises Aragami with a passion but even more, hates turning a blind eye to the suffering of humans who can’t defend themselves.

He wants to help everyone, anyone even though it’s against Fenrir’s orders and it tends to get him in trouble.

But as he is a New Type starting to discover his own ability and not fully trained, Fenrir needs all the help they can get to fight these Aragami. And for now, he and another hot-headed New Type named Allisa is what they have.

And both want to help humanity, and despise Fenrir’s practice of only helping those that are useful to the cause.

The first seven episodes develop the story of Lenka and later Allisa but also doing a good job of showing how dismal things are on the planet and how devastating the Aragami are. How they kill with no remorse, they kill anything that stands in their way and no one understands why, or why these monstrous things have shown up on their planet.

The second half focuses on the past of Lenka but also the past of Johannes, Sakaki and Aisha were experimenting with the Managam Project and the gathering of Oracle Cells began and how the first Aragami emerged.

But also the true enemy is revealed.

Overall, the second half and conclusion to “God Eater” was fantastic.  A lot of drama, emotion and action featured in each episode and this second half shows us the apocalyptic world and the sacrifices that are necessary for humanity to continue on.  Unfortunately, certain people have their own interpretation of how the world should be.

But for the series as a whole, fans should be happy with the overall storyline and also a teaser of what to look forward to, if another season is created.

It also helps that characters from the video game are featured in the anime series, and so, this series does give a much more deeper appreciation for the entire “God Eater” series.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is fantastic as characters are fully of detail, are well-shaded. The Aragami look absolutely frightening and their animation and overall design is fantastic. Background art is well-done, music adds to the riveting fast-paced, action-packed environment of the series.

And you also get the special features with crew interviews plus a 20-page deluxe booklet as well.

Overall, “God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting. Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back. But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance.

A thrilling, dramatic and action-packed anime series, “God Eater” vol. 1 and vol. 2 are highly recommended!

 

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

December 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” is an another fun, action-packed volume as it goes into how Luffy and Ace met and how they would become brothers. Recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four

DURATION: Episodes 493-504 (Duration: 320 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: November 8, 2016


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

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


A glimpse of the past, how Luffy and Ace met!

The battle at Marineford has come to a close, but the story of Luffy and Ace’s past has yet to be told! As a boy of only seven, Luffy is reluctantly taken in by the Dadan family of mountain bandits at his grandfather’s request. After many failed attempts, he finally befriends Dadan’s other charge, the moody and reckless Ace. Together with their friend Sabo, the boys loot the junkyard known as the Gray Terminal and battle mighty beasts of the forest.

 Dreaming of becoming pirates, the three form inseparable bonds of brotherhood. But the impending arrival of a Celestial Dragon throws the kingdom into a frenzy as they try to hide the garbage that has shamed their noble city. Playtime is over when Sabo’s family takes their son away and a sinister plan to destroy the Gray Terminal unfolds.


In the last volume of “One Piece”, we witnessed the tragic death of Ace.  As Luffy mourns the death of his brother, the latest episodes featured on “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” features on how Luffy and Ace met and how he, Ace and Ace’s friend Sabo would grow up together as children with dreams of becoming pirates.  But how tragedy would eventually lead them to train harder.

As Luffy remembers the past, he knows that he must train harder, become stronger and making a tough decision.

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 18th season and a total of 767 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” (Episodes 493-504), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

NOTE: Episode 492 featuring Luffy teaming up with Toriko is not included for the North American DVD release.

“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 Eight, Voyage Four” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 495 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Jessica Cavanagh (voice of Curly Dadan) and Newton Pittman (voice of Magra).

DISC 2:

  • Episode 503 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chris Burnett and Morgan Garrett.
  • Inside Look: The Shot Heard ‘Round the World – (14:41) Funimation staff discuss Ace’s death and why it was a tragic story that affected viewers worldwide.
  • Textless Opening Song – “Fight Together”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four”, the episodes are from the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 493-504) as this volume features another heartbreaking story but one that gives people a breather from the shocking and tragic death of Ace but now going back in the past to show how Luffy and Ace have a special bond, but also how there was another character which Luffy and Ace considered as brothers.

With episodes 493-504, as Luffy mourns the death of Ace, we get to watch flashback episodes when he and Ace were young and how Ace was really bad towards Luffy but eventually they became brothers, along with another person named Sabo.

The three made a decision to become pirates and trained hard to become stronger.  But most importantly, to show how Ace was an important figure in Luffy’s life and how Luffy really had no one but Ace and Sabo.  But the three get in trouble and are captured by the pirate, Bluejam.

While the last DVD volume was truly epic, heartbreaking and no doubt an emotional rollercoaster, we learn that both Ace and Luffy had also faced a major heartbreaking tragedy that would set them on a new path to become stronger and achieve their goals to become pirates.

For “One Piece” fans, this latest volume does showcase Luffy and Ace as children but it’s still action-packed, full of humor but also tragedy, so prepare yourself for another sad tragic demise of a character.

Needless to say, “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

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 FUNimation staff discussing the death of a major character.

Unfortunately, episode 492 is not included on this DVD as it’s a collaboration episode between Luffy and Toriko (of the “Toriko” anime series). And possibly due to licensing issues, this episode was not included in this volume.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” is an another fun, action-packed volume as it goes into how Luffy and Ace met and how they would become brothers. Recommended!

God Eater Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting. Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back. But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance. A thrilling, action-packed anime series so far, “God Eater” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © BNEI/PROJECT G.E. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: God Eater Vol. 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-7 (166 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 28, 2016


Director: Takayuki Hirao

Script by Kei Tsunematsu, Takayuki Hirao

Music by Go Shiina

Original Character Design by Koichi Itakura

Character Design by Keita Shimizu

Art Director: Masaru Yanaka

Anime Production: ufotable


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Lenka Utsugi

Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Tsubaki Amamiya

Chiaki Omigawa as Licca Kusunoki

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Lucien Dodge as Kōta Fujiki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kyle Hebert as Lindow Amamiya

Kanae Itō/Erika Harlacher as Hibari Takeda

Kazuya Nakai/Crispin Freeman as Soma Schicksal

Maaya Sakamoto/Cherami Leigh as Alisa Illinichina Amiella

Rica Fukami/Wendee Lee as Aisha Gauche

Rikiya Koyama/Spike Spencer as Johannes von Schicksal

Sayaka Ohara as Sakuya

Taiten Kusunoki as Paylor Sakaki

Tomohisa Asou as Daigo Oguruma

 


In the early 2050s, unknown life forms called “Oracle Cells” began their uncontrolled consumption of all life on Earth. Their ravenous appetite and remarkable adaptability earned them first dread, then awe, and finally the name Aragami, the “Mad Gods.” In the face of an enemy completely immune to conventional weapons, urban civilization collapsed, and each day humanity was driven further and further toward extinction.

The year is now 2071… the domain of the mad gods lies here in the Far East.

One single ray of hope remains for humanity. Following the development of “God Arcs” — living weapons which incorporate Oracle Cells — their wielders are organized into an elite force.

In a world ravaged by mad gods, these “God Eaters” fight a desperate war…


In 2010, “God Eater”, a sci-fi adventure video game series developed by Shift and published by Bandai Namco was released in the U.S. for the Sony PSP.

Since then, several “God Eater” video games have been released and in 2015, an anime series created by ufotable aired on television in July 2015.

The series is directed by Takayuki Hirao (“Death Note”, “Garden of Sinners”, “Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene”), script by Takayuki Hirao (“Magicl Sisters Yoyo & Nene”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”) and, character design by Keita Shimizu (“ef: a tale of memories”, “REC”, “Negima!?”), art direction by Masaru Yanaka (“Ghost Hunt”, “Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~”, “Samurai Girls”) and music by Go Shiina (“Kyousougiga”, “Tales of Zestiria the X”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”).

A total of 13 episodes were created and now, “God Eater” vol. 1 (featuring the first seven episodes) will be released on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

The series is set in 2071, and the world has been nearly destroyed by mysterious monsters known as Aragami.

To fight these Aragami, an organization known as Fenrir has God Eaters, people who can wield “God Arc” weapons made from Aragami cells to exterminate them.

And it is being discovered that certain people, known as New Types, can wield God Arc’s and switch from gun and blade form.

The series revolves around a young man named Lenka Utsugi, who desperately wants to destroy all Aragami.  But unfortunately, he is not ready for battle despite his hot headed temper that wants to fight and destroy them.

Lenka and Kota Fujiki are sent to training under a stern woman named Tsubaki.  And as Lenka is always determined of wanting to help anyone, unfortunately that leads him to make rash decisions which would let him be killed during training mode.

This is unacceptable and when Lenka breaks orders from Tsubaki to not fight, while trying to fight and rescue someone from the Aragami, he reveals that he is a New Type.

But because he’s not fully-trained, he is almost killed until he is rescued by the First Unit of God Eatrs, Soma, Lindow and Sakuya.

But because Lenka disobeyed orders, he is jailed and is awaiting court-martial and may need to surrender his God Arc.  But because of his New Type abilities and that New Type users are a rarity, he is given a second chance to fight, must team up with Russia’s New Type, Alisa Illinichina Amiella.  Another person who has a hot-temper and disregards rules.

Can these two New Type God Eaters work together and defeat the Aragami but also rescue many human lives?


VIDEO:

“God Eater” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and I thought the Aragami designs were very awesome.

But for the most part, character designs and background art for “God Eater” look fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“God Eater” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“God Eater” vol. 1 comes with the following special features:

  • God Eater Extra 00 – (23:43)  This is the “God Eater Burst Prologue” featuring the prologue and interview with the game production staff.  The OVA features God Eater Soma joining Fenrir with Lindow and Tsubaki.  The OVA takes place six years before “God Eater Burst”.
  • God Eater Extra 01 – (23:26) Featuring an interview with the anime production crew of ufotable.
  • God Eater Extra 02 – (23:23) Featuring interviews with the musical composer, Go Shiina and the music artists.
  • Textless Opening and Endings

EXTRAS:

“God Eater” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase and a 32-page deluxe booklet.


Having played “God Eater” on the Sony PSP and Sony Vita, I have to say that the “God Eater” anime series had made me enjoy the series even more, now that we have a much more intuitive storyline that is not only addicting but action-packed.

While there is some level of banality of an unknown hero that fights for an organization and no one knows if the newcomer is ready for battle, which many have seen in anime such as “Blue Demon” and “Seraph of the Vampire”, “God Eater” is an anime series that is much more deeper, violent and for the most part, humanity is on the losing side of the battle against these monstrous entities known as Aragami.

The main protagonist is Lenka Utsugi, a boy raised on the poor side of town, despises Aragami with a passion but even more, hates turning a blind eye to the suffering of humans who can’t defend themselves.

He wants to help everyone, anyone even though it’s against Fenrir’s orders and it tends to get him in trouble.

But as he is a New Type starting to discover his own ability and not fully trained, Fenrir needs all the help they can get to fight these Aragami.  And for now, he and another hot-headed New Type named Allisa is what they have.

And both want to help humanity, and despise Fenrir’s practice of only helping those that are useful to the cause.

The first seven episodes develop the story of Lenka and later Allisa but also doing a good job of showing how dismal things are on the planet and how devastating the Aragami are.  How they kill with no remorse, they kill anything that stands in their way and no one understands why, or why these monstrous things have shown up on their planet.

Needless to say, the first half of the series leaves people with many questions but no doubt setting up for an action-packed second half, which hopefully gives us answers to why the Aragami exist?  But also, how Lenka and Allisa develop throughout the course of the series.

It also helps that characters from the video game are featured in the anime series, and so, this series does give a much more deeper appreciation for the entire “God Eater” series.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is fantastic as characters are fully of detail, are well-shaded.  The Aragami look absolutely frightening and their animation and overall design is fantastic.  Background art is well-done, music adds to the riveting fast-paced, action-packed environment of the series.

And you also get the prologue OVA and crew interviews included in the special features plus a 32-page deluxe booklet as well.

Overall, “God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting.  Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back.  But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance.

A thrilling, action-packed anime series so far, “God Eater” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

 

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

September 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “One Piece” fan, you do not want to miss one of the most memorable episodes of the “One Piece” series!  Find out who lives and dies in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three, available now on DVD from FUNimation!  Highly recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three

DURATION: Episodes 481-491 (Duration: 320 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: September 20, 2016


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

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


Will Whitebeard’s final stand usher in a new era? Ace is freed from his shackles but escaping Marineford isn’t going to be that easy. The Navy has their sights set on the two brothers as they make a mad dash towards freedom. Injured, but not down for the count Whitebeard rises to put a stop to his crew’s attack, giving them the order to escape to the New World and leave him for dead. Unwilling to let the man who raised him stand alone against his enemies, Ace turns back to lend a hand. Before he can reach his destination, Akainu appears to test the might of his magma against the flames of Fire Fist Ace. As their battle heats up, Luffy and the rest of the world can only watch as the legendary pirate Whitebeard strikes out with all his power and attempts to sink Marineford to the bottom of the sea.


In the long storyline of “One Piece”, there is one storyline that has struck a chord with fans, especially in Japan, as it mourns one of the popular characters of the manga/anime series.

In this latest volume  of “One Piece” (Season Eight, Voyage Three), we have watched as Luffy and Whitebeard and fellow pirates have come to the aid to save Ace from execution.

But Akainu (one of three admirals of the Marines) is determined to make sure that they both are dead.

And as this volume features tragedy, the battle between the pirate and marines leads to the escape of Blackbeard and the Blackbeard Pirates.  And for Whitebeard, his former teacher is now his greatest enemy.  One will win, but the other will not survive.

Do not miss one of the most memorable episodes of the “One Piece” series!  Find out who lives and dies in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

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 18th season and a total of 755 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three” (Episodes 481-491), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

“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 Eight, Voyage Three” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 482 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Joel McDonald (ADR Director), Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Luffy) and ason and production assistant, Katherine Salavarria.
  • EPISODE 486 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Joel McDonald (ADR Director), Matt Thurston (voice of Shuryu) and Cole Brown (voice of Blackbeard).

DISC 2:

  • Top 10 Moments – (18:13) Colleen Clinkenbeard, Mike McFarland, Brina Palencia, Joel McDonald, Godswill Ugwa and Katherine Salavarria discuss their top ten moments.
  • Textless Opening Song – “One Day”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three”, the episodes are from the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 481-491) as this volume features one of the most heartbreaking episodes ever featured on “One Piece”.

Major deaths take place in this volume and the plot revolves around Luffy and Whitebeard trying to save Ace from being executed by the Marines.  And it’s not going to be an easy save, as the three powerful Admirals of the Marines are present and Akainu (one of three admirals of the Marines) is determined to make sure that both Luffy and Ace are dead.

Meanwhile, as the battles are taking place, destruction happens and Blackbeard and his pirates have been released and are now causing problems, which leads to another tragic death.

The volume also features the return of Trafalgar Law who comes to try to offer Luffy and Jimbei assistance. And we also see the return of Shanks and his crew!

This latest DVD volume is truly epic, heartbreaking and no doubt an emotional rollercoaster.  If you haven’t read the manga series and are just watching the anime series, one can’t simply put into words of how these episodes will no doubt make you shed a tear if you are a “One Piece” fan.  But it’s these episodes that takes the series and its character to a new direction.

This volume is purely all action, as we get to see Ace fight for his life, Whitebeard fighting against Akainu and Blackbeard, the return of characters and so much more!  This is probably the biggest war between the pirates and the marines that we have seen thus far.  And it was no doubt the bloodiest and tragic battle yet.

Needless to say, this volume has a tremendous amount of action and “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

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 few cast and crew discussing their top 10.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three” is an another action-packed volume as Luffy and Whitebeard and friends are now closer to Ace but as the Marines and Pacifistas try to undermine them from rescuing Ace, will they be able to make it happen?

If you are a “One Piece” fan, you do not want to miss one of the most memorable episodes of the “One Piece” series!  Find out who lives and dies in “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Three, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

Highly recommended!

One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut” is a re-release of “One Piece: Season Six – Volume Four and Five” in a dual volume set release.  Featuring 23 episodes, the uncut sets are definitely worth it, if you are trying to catch up on the “One Piece” series and want more bang for the buck!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 373-396 (Duration: 600 Minutes, 4 DVD’s)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: June 28, 2016


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

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 harrowing Thriller Bark arc reaches its brutal end with a superhuman slugfest! Luffy, battered beyond belief, pushes his body past the breaking point as he seeks to save his friends and deliver the decisive blow against Gecko Moria. When the dust clears, only Zoro and Sanji are left standing to protect their fallen captain from the brutish Bartholomew Kuma. Should one of them somehow withstand a savage beating from this behemoth, the crew just might survive long enough for Sanji to meet his dream girl—a beautiful mermaid in distress named Camie! After taking her on board, the Straw Hats drop anchor at an island bursting with bubbles in the hopes of equipping their ship for underwater travel. But when Camie is kidnapped, job number one becomes saving their newest friend from the cruel clutches of the Celestial Dragons!


NOTE:  One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut features two volumes (One Piece Season Six: Voyage Four and Voyage Five)

After the fight against Nightmare Luffy,  the Strawhat Pirates takes on the Oars and Luffia takes on Moria.

And after helping out Brook, the Strawhat Pirates get a new member.

Also, the “Sabaody Archipelago Chapter” begins and a man named Duval is wanting Sanji dead for some reason.

Find out in “One Piece Collection 16”, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

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 14th season and over 500 episodes having aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five” (Episodes 434-445), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

“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 Collection 16 DVD Uncut” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 377 COMMENTARY – (4:38) Featuring voice actors Eric Vale (voice of Sanji) and Christopher Sabat (voice of Zoro).

DISC 2:

  • In the Galley with the Straw Hats – (27:17) Featuring “One Piece” voice actors pigging out and talking about their experiences on the series.  Featuring Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper), Director Joel McDonald (voice of Kuma), Stephanie Young (voice of Nico Robin), Eric Vale (voice of Sanji) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook).
  • EPISODE 384 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Monkey D. Luffy) and Stephanie Young (voice of Nico Robin).
  • Textless Opening Song – “We Are!” – One Piece Animation 10 Year Anniversary Ver.” – (2:32)

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 387 COMMENTARY – (4:38) Featuring Director Joel McDonald (voice of Kuma) and Hunter Scott (voice of Macro).

DISC 4:

  • Villains and Fishmen: A Peek Behind the Curtain – (22:23) Featuring Hunter Scott (voice actor of Macro), David Vincent (voice of Duval) and Director Joel McDonald (voice of Kuma).
  • EPISODE 393 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook) and Megan Shipman (voice of Camie).
  • Textless Opening Song – “We Are!” – One Piece Animation 10 Year Anniversary Ver.” – (2:32)
  • Textless Opening Song – “Share the World”

With the release of “One Piece Collection 16 DVD Uncut”, the episodes are from the Japanese 10th and 11th season (featuring episodes 373-396) as the Strawhat Pirates take on the Oars and the beginning of the Sabaody Archipelago Chapter.  Please note that these episodes have been released in the US on DVD before as “One Piece: Season Six, Voyage Four” and “One Piece: Season Six, Voyage Five”.

With the first few episodes featured, this represents the final episodes of Japan’s 10th season as the Strawhat Pirates take on the Oars and how Brook became a member of the Strawhat Pirates.

The episodes after that arc then begins the “Sabaody Archipelago Chapter” as the Strawhat Pirates vacation at Spa Islands, a ship with luxury facilities that serves pirates and criminals.  And once again, the group comes in contact with the Foxy Pirates who are in search of a special gem.

Unfortunately, this drags the Strawhat Pirates into a confrontation with the island’s owner, Doran, who has captured Sayo and will only release her if Luffy and friends find the gem.

Meanwhile, the Strawhat Pirates confront Iron Mask Duval and the Macro Gang in search of a friend.

As for the DVD, you get 23-episodes and picture quality is very good. Especially in Japan, all “One Piece” episodes since 2007 have been broadcast in HD and widescreen in Japan, it would be interesting if that means the series would get a Blu-ray release in the United States. But for the DVD, picture quality is colorful, vibrant and looks good as one can expect on DVD. Audio is good, dialogue is clear. And for special features, you get a good number of audio commentary and other special featurettes with the English dub voice actors.

Overall, I enjoy the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates and I’m in it for the long haul. And for those who want the better value of watching “One Piece” in a collected volume, these uncut releases feature two volumes each, so it helps you catch up to the current single volume releases.

With that being said, you can join in at the beginning of any season and still be interested in “One Piece”. I do recommend at least watching the first season, so you get an idea of what’s going on with the primary characters (or read the manga). Especially to find out the goal of the Straw Hat Pirates is and how they all joined to form their crew, the Straw Hat Pirates.

But “One Piece” is definitely one of the most entertaining, exciting and action-packed series that continues to have a strong presence in Japan for over a decade.

Exciting, crazy and just an enjoyable anime series, find out why many people have enjoyed the story of the the Straw Hat Pirates and their adventures in “One Piece”!

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