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Terraformars (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

Image courtesy of © Ken-Ichi Tachibana, Yu Sasuga/SHUEISHA Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Terra Formars

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 312 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 23, 2018


Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki

Series Composition: Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Shusei Murai

Originally Created by Kenichi Tachibana and Yu Sasuga

Character Design:  Masanori Shino, Satoshi Kimura

Art Director: Minami Kasuga

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Christopher Smith as Shōkichi Komachi

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Daymond as Marcos Eringrad Garcia

Kenn/Steve Cannon as Alex Kandori Stewart

Shizuka Itou/Eric Lindbeck as Michelle K. Davis

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Niosi as Akari Hizamaru

Ai Kayano/Erica Lindbeck as Sheila Levitt

Aki Toyosaki/Erin Fitzgerald as Yaeko Yanasegawa

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Joseph G. Newton

Ayane Sakura/Cristina Vale as Eva Frost

Chiaki Takahashi/Cherami Leigh as Kanako Sanjō

Daisuke Ono/Max Mittelman as Keiji Onizuka

Kenji Akabane/Christopher Smith as Ivan Perepelkina

Koji Yusa/Doug Erholtz as Adolf Reinhard

Kouji Ishii/Peter Lurie as Narration

Tetsuo Komura/Kyle Hebert as Liu Yiwu

Tomokazu Sugita as Ichirō Hiruma

Tooru Nara/Max Mittelman as Aleksandr Asimov

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Keith Silverstein as Shichisei Hiruma

Unshō Ishizuka/Patrick Seitz as Sylvester Asimov


In the deep silence of space, the planet Mars hisses with death. On Earth, a mysterious virus is devastating the human race. To find a cure and give humanity a fighting chance of survival, a multinational team of genetically modified citizens must race to the Red Planet and uncover its secrets. What awaits is the bloody aftermath of a colonization attempt gone horribly wrong–hordes of hyper-evolved cockroaches known as “Terraformars” roam keen to kill. Earth’s chosen stand ready for combat and ready to change the course of human history. The question is which species can unite for victory.


In 2011, writer Yu Sasuga and artist Kenichi Tachibana would create “Terra Formars”, a manga series that would become a major hit in Japan.

First serialized in Shueisha’s “Weekly Young Jump”, “Terra Formars” was ranked #1 in the 2013 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey and an anime series produced by LIDEN FILMS would be air on Japanese TV in 2015.

And now the series will be released on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

With Earth looking to colonize Mars which is undergoing its final stages of Terraforming and now becoming a green planet, a group of 15 men and women have been sent to Mars to check on the Terraformation of the planet.

Meanwhile, on Earth, the planet is falling into ruin due to environmental destruction and energy shortages, so Mars has been the focus by scientists.

Scientists have used moss and a black organism to darken the surface of the planet and causing it to absorb more sunlight, increase temperatures and melting the carbon dioxide.

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

As the 15 men and women of BUGS 2 arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.

The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

And now the humans have become the hunted.

Because the cockroaches exhibit all abilities of a cockroach, it was learned that scientists embedded human DNA in them and their mutation has made them beings that would not just survive in Mars but also exhibiting human characteristics and a hatred towards humanity (as humanity has had a hatred towards cockroaches).

But humanity also has found a way for humans to counteract the cockroaches by using injections of insects on humans that will briefly give them insect powers. But is it enough for the humans to survive in Mars as they are now considered the pests for the planet in which the humanoid cockroaches are the primary species?

The anime series is set 20-years later and Shokichi Komachi is now the new head of U-NASA. As one of the few survivors to escape from Mars and survive the cockroach onslaught, the Earth he has returned to is not just facing an overpopulation problem but also a widespread virus that came from Mars.

The bad news that the only way to stop it is to confirm the existence of the virus and determine its type and bring it back to Earth in hopes to create a vaccine.

But will Shokichi find a new group of people willing to sacrifice their lives for humanity by going to Mars and prepare for the onslaught of cockroach/humans that have infested the planet and want nothing more than to kill the humans?

As the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1, it becomes a battle of survival as the recruits must prepare for a crash landing on Mars, but to find out that not only have Earth’s recruits have evolved, so have the Terraformars!

On Mars, the officers come across different types of Terraformars that somehow have other insect abilities. Did they evolve that way or is someone responsible for the insects becoming bipedal humanoid.


VIDEO:

“Terraformars” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9). Featuring character designs that respect Tachibana’s original manga artwork, overall picture quality is well-done and colors are vibrant.  I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues with this series on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Terraformars” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.  Both soundtracks are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Terraformars” comes with interviews with the English dub talent (Erica Lindbeck, Chris Niosi, Patrick Seitz and Viz Media’s Terraformars Team), clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

EXTRAS:

“Terraformars” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


In America, there have been a number of sci-fi films that have featured humanity taking on various alien species on Mars.

But what makes Yu Sasuga and Ken-Ichi Tachibana’s “Terraformars” so fascinating and also exciting is the science of Terra Formation and how scientists were able to create something that may lead to their own demise.

It’s interesting because of all species to bring on Mars, any human would know that cockroaches are the most resilient insect. Not only are they quick but they are very hard to kill.

Stepping on them doesn’t always fully kill them, throwing them away in a toilet in water also doesn’t kill them as they try to escape. So, for anyone familiar with the resilient cockroach can possibly think if a cockroach evolved to something much larger than a human being, not only would it be powerful but also hard to kill.

And despite humans ability to strategize, without having the same power to fight back, humans on Mars are literally defenseless. And to fight back, the use of insect injections from powerful insects in the planet may be what is needed to fight against these human cockroaches.

This first half features Shokichi recruit a ragtag bunch of people willing to sacrifice themselves in hopes for a payday but also in hopes for a vaccine to help eliminate the virus from Mars that have been killing people all over the globe.  But will these new recruits encounter the same tragic experience that Shokichi had once endured?

And once the humans return to Mars, unfortunately things don’t happen all that well as it all seems doom and gloom from the start as the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1 and when the crew does reach Mars, they realize that the enemies they have fought, also have gain intelligence and a new brand of fighting back. Which does not sound good for humanity, at all!

It’s a very exciting and action-packed anime series for sure.  But having read Yu Sasuga and Kenichi Tachibana’s manga series prior to watching the anime, there are differences.

For one, the manga began with the first 15 men and women of BUGS 2 to arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.  The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

In the anime series, it immediately begins with the introduction to Akari Hizamaru trying to save his childhood friend Yuriko and then by episode 2, featuring the Annex 1 heading to Mars.

The manga series put a lot of thought into its introduction, a glimmer of what will transpire on Earth and then the introduction to the characters and Annex 1 heading to Mars.  The manga also went into a lot of details trying to describe the insect or mammal/animal they were tested with.

The anime series focuses on Akari and Michelle K. Davis, with other episodes giving certain characters their own introduction.  While still action-packed and exciting, the anime series does miss out on a lot of the character building storylines and that’s unfortunate.

The animation is respectful to the manga series and one thing I like about the anime series is seeing the color differentiation with the characters.  The manga series could get a bit confusing as certain characters look the same (and it doesn’t help that so many characters are introduced), so the animation does have that as an advantage.  Picture quality is good with slight softness but LIDEN FILMS did a good job.   The lossless soundtrack in Japanese and English stereo and the voice acting for both soundtracks are well-acted.

 

As for special features, the Blu-ray comes with interviews, clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

Overall, “Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

Steins;Gate: Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 22, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“Steins;Gate” the overall series… not only is it highly recommended, it is also on my list for “Best Anime Series on Blu-ray for 2012”!

Images courtesy of ©2011 5pb nitroplus steins. 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Steins;Gate: Part 2

DURATION: Episodes 13-25 (300 Minutes)

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

RATED: 14+

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: December 18, 2012

Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki, Takuya Sato, Tomoki Kobayashi

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Jun Murakami, Takeshi Abo

Original Character Design by huke

Character Design by Kyuuta Sakai

Art Director: Koji Eto

Chief Animation Director: Kyuuta Sakai

Anime Production: WHITE FOX

Featuring the voices of:

Asami Imai/Trina Nishimura as Kurisu Makise

Mamoru Miyano/J. Michael Tatum as Rintarō Okabe

Ayano Yamamoto/Brina Palencia as Nae Tennōji

Halko Momoi/Jad Saxton as Faris Nyannyan

Kana Hanazawa/Jackie Ross as Mayuri Shiina

Masaki Terasoma/Christopher R. Sabat as Yūgo Tennōji

Saori Goto/Jessica Cavanagh as Moeka Kiryū

Tomokazu Seki/Tyson Rinehart as Itaru Hashida (Daru)

Yu Kobayashi/Lindsay Seidel as Ruka Urushibara

Yukari Tamura/Cherami Leigh as Suzuha Amane

Hiroshi Tsuchida/Patrick Seitz as John Titor

The microwave is a time machine and the girl gets shot. Okarin sends another text. Nukes another banana. The mad scientist meddled with forces he never should have known about. The girl gets run over by a car. Okarin goes back to stop the bleeding. Dashes madly through the dark streets. Races against time. The girl gets hit by a train. Failures and flatlines multiply in a ghastly pattern of repetition.

Over and over and over again until sanity is stripped away and you start to notice shapes slipping in and out of the shadows. SERN. The girl gets stabbed before and after the kissing. Okarin grows frantic. Bodies pile up around him. SERN is getting closer. The girl is bleeding. A Top Secret Future Gadget Lab member from the future is their only hope. The blood sprays and the girl dies. SERN destroys the world. Kills all the girls. There is time for one last try. Now Okarin bleeds but he won’t stop. Ever. The microwave is a time machine and the girl always gets shot.

In a shocking twist, Shiina Mayuri reveals herself to be a Rounder spy is killed by Moeka Kiryu.  Now Rintaro must go through time travel to rescue Moeka but also tries to find out Moeka’s true mission.  Rintaro learns from one time leap that SERN has targeted the lab because Rintaro created a time machine and was publicly about to announce it.

Now knowing the truth that his creation has led to a friend’s death, will Rintaro be able to prevent Mayuri from getting killed?  Find out in the last half of “Steins;Gate Part 2”!

What is “Steins;Gate”?

With the success of their video game “Chaos;Head”, 5pb. and Nitroplus went to work on a new Japanese visual novel titled “Steins;Gate” which was released for the XBOX 360 in 2009 and followed by a release for Windows, PSP, and PlayStation 3. And a storyline that relates to events presented in “Chaos;Head”.

As with other 5pb. works, “Steins;Gate” would receive a manga adaptation for Media Factory’s “Monthly Comic Alive” before its first video game release, a secondary adaptation later that year for Mag Garden’s “Monthly Comic Blade” and an anime adaptation courtesy of White Fox for 2011.

“Steins;Gate” is directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki (“BioHunter”, “Ai Monogatari”, “Texhnolyze”), Takuya Sato (“Armitage III”, “CODE-E”, “Fate/Stay night”) and Tomoki Kobayashi (“Galaxy Angel”, “Amagami SS+”, “Rozen Maiden”) and series composition by Jukki Hanada (“Campione!”, “Chobits”, “CODE-E”, “Accel World”). Character designs are by Kyuuta Sakai (“Pita Ten”, “Strawberry Marshmallow”, “Ichigo Mashimaro) and music by Jun Murakami (“Grappler Baki”) and Takeshi Abo (“Memories Off 2nd”, “Monochrome Factor” and “Robotics;Notes”).

With a film in production and curiosity by video gamers of the series, “Steins;Gate”, the anime series will be released in two parts, with the first part released back in September 2012 and now part two with the second half of the series on Blu-ray & DVD combo-pack courtesy of FUNimation released in Dec. 2012.

“Steins;Gate” revolves around a scientist named Rintaro Okabe. Seen as a mad scientist, life for the scientist is getting out of hand as people he had conversations with are acting as it never happened, people he saw dead are alive hours later and situations that he feels are real, never happened. His friend and colleagues worry that perhaps the scientist is going crazy but perhaps Okabe’s latest invention, a microwave that can send text messages into the past and also allowing him to travel between alternate worlds is working…or perhaps, is this all in his mind?

And if the invention does indeed work, how will it benefit mankind when the man who invented it thinks he will be a messiah that can change the future?

Meanwhile, Okabe brings in a few people to join his team. Kurisu Makise is a neuroscience researcher who is often at odds with Okabe, but despite her being repulsed by him, she enjoys spending time with him and his friends, because despite being intelligent, she has been having personal problems with her father.

Working alongside Rintaro is the otaku Mayuri Shiina, a cosplay fanatic and airhead. Itaru “Daru” Hashida, the hacker and otaku who is always wanting to get close to women.

Also, featured is Moeka Kiryu, a shy girl that Rintaro has given the nickname “Shining Finger” (because she prefers to communicate only via texting, even if she is right next to the person she is communicating with); Ryka Urashibara, a male bishonen who looks very much like a girl; Feris Nyannyan, who works with Mayuri at a maid cafe; Suzuha Amane, a motorcycle riding girl who works for Rintaro’s landlord.

What happens when these characters start finding out about Rintaro’s possible time machine?

In part 2 of “Steins;gate”, Rintaro and friends must try to find out what to do with the time machine, now that SERN has revealed themselves of wanting to stop it and going so far to kill Mayuri.  But each time Rintaro time leaps, the result is the same, Mayuri dies.  But why does she die and what is SERN’s true intention?  Meanwhile, Suzuha, the part-time employee for Rintaro’s landlord seems to know a lot about time travel and how Rintaro may be able to save Mayuri?  Is there more to Suzuha than Rintaro and Kurisu know about her?

VIDEO:

“Steins;Gate: Part 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Although there are major animation studios who do a great job with some TV series, the fact is that they are busy doing several series at a time. But when you have a company who doesn’t have so many things going on all at once, sometimes these anime studios put all they have into an anime TV series, making it so well-detailed, that you can’t help but be impressed. My belief is that White Fox, the animation studio behind “Steins;Gate” put a lot into this series because it looks fantastic.

I love the amount of detail that goes into the character design but also the backgrounds. If anything, the cool look of what video gamers have seen through the “Steins;Gate” video games will notice the the high quality production with the TV series.  There are scenes that are intentionally created to look soft, but colors are vibrant at times and if anything, the series looks amazingly robust and well-saturated on Blu-ray!

As for any problematic issues, I did see some banding mainly scenes that focused on Okabe but nothing terrible.

AUDIO:

“Steins;Gate: Part 2” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. As one would expect, the dynamic range for the English dub is much better and also noticed a good use of the surround channels for ambiance.  A lot of bird chirping can be heard in this anime series but overall, lossless audio is very good.

“I actually enjoyed the English dub a lot more because of the 5.1 lossless soundtrack but the more in-depth sci-fi writing. But both are well-acted, it’s just a slight difference of what was added to the English dub.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Steins;Gate: Part 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 19 Audio Commentary – Featuring an entertaining audio commentary by Patrick Seitz (voice of John Titor) and Jessica Cavanaugh (voice of Moeka Kiryu).
  • Episode 24 Audio Commentary – Featuring Colleen Clinkenbeard (ADR Director) and Nathanael Harrison (Mix Engineer) and Stephen Hoff (ADR Engineer).
  • Textless Opening Song “Hacking to the Gate” (Version 1)
  • Textless Opening Song “Hacking to the Gate” (Version 2)
  • Textless Closing Song “Toki Tsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaki”
  • Textless Closing Song “Sky Clad Observer”
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:06) The Funimation trailer for “Steins;Gate”.
  • FUNimation Entertainment Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Steins;Gate: Part 2” comes with the entire series on both Blu-ray and DVD.

More often, you see an anime’s brilliance typically when you start off with an anime series.  From the first half of a 24-26 episode series, you know what you are getting.

“Steins;Gate” is not one of those anime series.  From its first half, you are introduced to characters and their crazy hijinks.  But its when you get to episode 13 all the way to the end, you realize that “Steins;Gate” is not only fantastic, but perhaps one of the best anime series that you have seen in a long time.

In fact, I’ll even go further and say that “Steins;Gate” is the one of the best anime series on Blu-ray for 2012!  That’s how much I enjoyed it!

As a big fan of science fiction, storylines of time travel have always been an interest to me. I love shows such as “Dr. Who”, films such as “Back to the Future” and even the alternate time episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

So, prior to watching “Steins;Gate”, what I did know is that it was a popular video game series and the fact that 5pb. and Nitroplus were behind it and that the series had a connection with “Chaos;Head”, peaked my interest. But when I heard that the anime series was coming out on Blu-ray/DVD, I was excited because I know the series and the games have done well in Japan.

Watching “Steins;Gate”, at first, I admit I was a bit confused. The protagonist, Rintaro Okabe, was a mad scientist with a maniacal laugh who was working on a time travel experiment. And I guess at first, I wasn’t getting into his character all that much. But then when the series started to showcase character development and introduce characters such as Kurisu, Moeka, Ruka, Feris and Suzuha, I started to warm up to the series because a series solely about a mad scientist who is arrogant, was not going to catch my interest.

But then I realized how clever the writing was for the series. How each of these individuals that were introduced, begin to ask for Rintaro to use his invention to help them out. For example, Ruka is a boy who looks so much like a girl and believes that because his mother ate a certain food, he was born a boy instead of a girl. So, he asks for Rintaro to send a message to his mother, to eat a certain food and see if it changes time and Ruka is born as a girl.

But then we are introduced to the problematic situation of changing time. Once you start meddling with time, it can lead to disaster or situations that Rintaro never expected. And the interesting situation is that because he is the only person that can remember a change in timeline and no one else, his ability can also be used improperly if the invention is in the wrong hands. But also, because he is a person that doesn’t have much in terms of social skills, no one knows what to expect when he does meddle with time.

In “Steins;Gate: Part 2”, Rintaro, who has made great friends and brought people as lab assistance for his time machine is taken for an amazing emotional ride.  When Mayuri is killed by Suzuha, who reveals herself to be a Rounder, he escapes being killed and tries and tries to save Mayuri’s life, but the end result is the same.  She dies.

But as he tries to figure things out himself, he knows he needs to bring in his friends, especially Kurisu, who is just as intelligent and the only person who knows about the hypothesis of time travel, that can help him save Mayuri.

Unfortunately, having used the time machines to change the life of Kurisu (who died in the first episode but manages to thwart her death), for Ruka (making her a girl instead of a boy) and for Feris (saving her father who died in a plane accident as he tried to apologize to his daughter), he learns that by changing time, he unfortunately changes time enough to where Mayuri is dead because of his time machine and people want access to the technology.

But as he changed the lives of the people he cares about, in order to bring Mayuri back-to-life, all things must revert back to the way it was.  But will he make that call?

And just when you think everything is over, a new twist happens at the end of episode 21 (right after the credits), which sets up the final three episodes.

As for the Blu-ray release, we are treated with two audio commentary tracks and as for the series itself, “Steins;Gate” looks amazing on Blu-ray, while the lossless soundtrack is clear and features good ambiance.  Especially the voice acting on both the Japanese and the English end, with the English dub getting a thumbs up for writing but the acting is really fantastic for this series.

Overall, “Steins;Gate” has turned out to be one of the most fascinating, smart yet fun, science fiction anime series that I have seen in a long while. But after watching “Steins;Gate: Part Two” and seeing these final 13 episodes, it left me feeling that I have watched on of the best anime series yet, and possibly as a nod to FUNimation, one of the best written and best acted anime series that they have done so far.

“Steins;Gate” the overall series… not only is it highly recommended, it is on my list for “Best Anime Series on Blu-ray for 2012”!

Steins;Gate: Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“Steins;Gate” is turning out to be one of the most fascinating, smart yet fun, science fiction anime series that I have seen in a long while.  You often watch many sci-fi anime series but rarely do you find one that is this addictive and captivating thanks to its characters and its clever writing.  “Steins;Gate part 1” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of ©2011 5pb nitroplus steins. 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Steins;Gate: Part 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

RATED: 14+

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2012

Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki, Takuya Sato, Tomoki Kobayashi

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Jun Murakami, Takeshi Abo

Original Character Design by huke

Character Design by Kyuuta Sakai

Art Director: Koji Eto

Chief Animation Director: Kyuuta Sakai

Anime Production: WHITE FOX

Featuring the voices of:

Asami Imai/Trina Nishimura as Kurisu Makise

Mamoru Miyano/J. Michael Tatum as Rintarō Okabe

Ayano Yamamoto/Brina Palencia as Nae Tennōji

Halko Momoi/Jad Saxton as Faris Nyannyan

Kana Hanazawa/Jackie Ross as Mayuri Shiina

Masaki Terasoma/Christopher R. Sabat as Yūgo Tennōji

Saori Goto/Jessica Cavanagh as Moeka Kiryū

Tomokazu Seki/Tyson Rinehart as Itaru Hashida (Daru)

Yu Kobayashi/Lindsay Seidel as Ruka Urushibara

Yukari Tamura/Cherami Leigh as Suzuha Amane

The microwave is a time machine. Okarin proved it. The self-anointed mad scientist nuked bananas into some gelatinous version of the future. Or maybe it was the past. Doesn’t matter. No one thought he could do it, but he did it anyway. He sent text messages through time to people he knew. To his friends. Some of them female. Pretty. He should have been more careful. He should have stopped. Tampering with the time-space continuum attracts unwelcome attention.

Clandestine organizations of nefarious origins take notice. SERN. Always watching. Okarin knows; he can feel their eyes. That’s why he started the top secret Future Gadget Lab. To stop them. You should join. We get to wear lab coats, and it’s dangerous. Danger is exciting because it’s deadly. The microwave is a time machine.

With the success of their video game “Chaos;Head”, 5pb. and Nitroplus went to work on a new Japanese visual novel titled “Steins;Gate” which was released for the XBOX 360 in 2009 and followed by a release for Windows, PSP, and PlayStation 3.  And a storyline that relates to events presented in “Chaos;Head”.

As with other 5pb. works, “Steins;Gate” would receive a manga adaptation for Media Factory’s “Monthly Comic Alive” before its first video game release, a secondary adaptation later that year for Mag Garden’s “Monthly Comic Blade” and an anime adaptation courtesy of White Fox for 2011.

“Steins;Gate” is directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki (“BioHunter”, “Ai Monogatari”, “Texhnolyze”), Takuya Sato (“Armitage III”, “CODE-E”, “Fate/Stay night”) and Tomoki Kobayashi (“Galaxy Angel”, “Amagami SS+”, “Rozen Maiden”) and series composition by Jukki Hanada (“Campione!”, “Chobits”, “CODE-E”, “Accel World”).  Character designs are by Kyuuta Sakai (“Pita Ten”, “Strawberry Marshmallow”, “Ichigo Mashimaro) and music by Jun Murakami (“Grappler Baki”) and Takeshi Abo (“Memories Off 2nd”, “Monochrome Factor” and “Robotics;Notes”).

With a film in production and curiosity by video gamers of the series, “Steins;Gate”, the anime series will be released in two parts, with the first part to be released in September 2012 on Blu-ray & DVD combo-pack courtesy of FUNimation.

“Steins;Gate” revolves around a scientist named Rintaro Okabe.  Seen as a mad scientist, life for the scientist is getting out of hand as people he had conversations with are acting as it never happened, people he saw dead are alive hours later and situations that he feels are real, never happened.  His friend and colleagues worry that perhaps the scientist is going crazy but perhaps Okabe’s latest invention, a microwave that can send text messages into the past and also allowing him to travel between alternate worlds is working…or perhaps, is this all in his mind?

And if the invention does indeed work, how will it benefit mankind when the man who invented it thinks he will be a messiah that can change the future?

Meanwhile, Okabe brings in a few people to join his team.  Kurisu Makise is a neuroscience researcher who is often at odds with Okabe, but despite her being repulsed by him, she enjoys spending time with him and his friends, because despite being intelligent, she has been having personal problems with her father.

Working alongside Rintaro is the otaku Mayuri Shiina, a cosplay fanatic and airhead. Itaru “Daru” Hashida, the hacker and otaku who is always wanting to get close to women.

Also, featured is Moeka Kiryu, a shy girl that Rintaro has given the nickname “Shining Finger” (because she prefers to communicate only via texting, even if she is right next to the person she is communicating with); Ryka Urashibara, a male bishonen who looks very much like a girl; Feris Nyannyan, who works with Mayuri at a maid cafe; Suzuha Amane, a motorcycle riding girl who works for Rintaro’s landlord.

What happens when these characters start finding out about Rintaro’s possible time machine?

VIDEO:

“Steins;Gate: Part 1” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Although there are major animation studios who do a great job with some TV series, the fact is that they are busy doing several series at a time.  But when you have a company who doesn’t have so many things going on all at once, sometimes these anime studios put all they have into an anime TV series, making it so well-detailed, that you can’t help but be impressed.  My belief is that White Fox, the animation studio behind “Steins;Gate” put a lot into this series because it looks fantastic.

I love the amount of detail that goes into the character design but also the backgrounds.  If anything, the cool look of what video gamers have seen through the “Steins;Gate” video games will notice the the high quality production with the TV series.

There are scenes that are intentionally created to look soft, but colors are vibrant at times and if anything, the series looks amazingly robust and well-saturated on Blu-ray!

AUDIO:

“Steins;Gate” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  As one would expect, the dynamic range for the English dub is much better and there is also differences as the writers really made “Steins;Gate” feel sci-fi with the inclusion of the “Dr. Who”. “Star Trek” references.  I actually enjoyed the English dub a lot more because of the 5.1 lossless soundtrack but the more in-depth sci-fi writing.  But both are well-acted, it’s just a slight difference of what was added to the English dub.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Steins;Gate: Part 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring an entertaining audio commentary by Trina Nishimura (voice of Kurisu) and Tyson Rinehart (voice of Itaru).
  • Episode 12 Audio Commentary – Featuring writers J. Michael Tatum (also voice of Okabe) and John Burgmeier (head writer) discussing the integration of sci-fi elements to the English dub version of “Steins;Gate” and why they love the series so much.
  • Akihabara Map – (1:32)A virtual tour through Akihabara and locations featured on “Steins;Gate”.
  • Textless Opening Song “Hacking to the Gate” (Version1)
  • Textless Closing Song “Toki Tsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaki”
  • FUNimation Entertainment Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Steins;Gate: Part 1” comes with the entire series on both Blu-ray and DVD.

As a big fan of science fiction, storylines of time travel have always been an interest to me.  I love shows such as “Dr. Who”, films such as “Back to the Future” and even the holodeck simulations of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

So, prior to watching “Steins;Gate”, what I did know is that it was a popular video game series and the fact that 5pb. and Nitroplus were behind it and that the series had a connection with “Chaos;Head”, peaked my interest.  But when I heard that the anime series was coming out on Blu-ray/DVD, I was excited because I know the series and the games have done well in Japan.

Watching “Steins;Gate”, at first, I admit I was a bit confused.  The protagonist, Rintaro Okabe, was a mad scientist with a maniacal laugh who was working on a time travel experiment.  And I guess at first, I wasn’t getting into his character all that much.  But then when the series started to showcase character development and introduce characters such as Kurisu, Moeka, Ruka, Feris and Suzuha, I started to warm up to the series because a series solely about a mad scientist who is arrogant, was not going to catch my interest.

But then I realized how clever the writing was for the series.  How each of these individuals that were introduced, begin to ask for Rintaro to use his invention to help them out.  For example, Ruka is a boy who looks so much like a girl and believes that because his mother ate a certain food, he was born a boy instead of a girl.  So, he asks for Rintaro to send a message to his mother, to eat a certain food and see if it changes time and Ruka is born as a girl.

But then we are introduced to the problematic situation of changing time.  Once you start meddling with time, it can lead to disaster or situations that Rintaro never expected.  And the interesting situation is that because he is the only person that can remember a change in timeline and no one else, his ability can also be used improperly if the invention is in the wrong hands.  But also, because he is a person that doesn’t have much in terms of social skills, no one knows what to expect when he does meddle with time.

Part of the enjoyment of the series, especially for the English dub, is the fact that you have two writers who love sci-fi, especially “Dr. Who”.  And the references integrated into the English dub, really made this series so enjoyable and fun.

As for the Blu-ray release, we are treated with two audio commentary tracks and as for the series itself, “Steins;Gate” looks amazing on Blu-ray, while the lossless soundtrack is appropriate.

But so far, the first half was really exciting.  The first half of the series is upbeat and for the most part happy, crazy and the characters just having a lot of fun.  Pretty much character building stories to establish these various characters.  But right when you get to episode 12, it ends with something so unexpected and shocking, you can’t wait for Part 2 of the series.

Overall, “Steins;Gate” is turning out to be one of the most fascinating, smart yet fun, science fiction anime series that I have seen in a long while.  You often watch many sci-fi anime series but rarely do you find one that is this addictive and captivating thanks to its characters and its clever writing.

“Steins;Gate: Part 1” is highly recommended!

 

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