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Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1 (A J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma)” Season 1 has turned out to be one of my favorite anime series to watch on Blu-ray in 2017.  Energetic, fun and vibrant, the series left me craving for more and I can’t wait for a second season of “Food Wars!”.

Images courtesy of © Yuto Tsukudo, Shun Saeki/Shuiesha, Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Committee. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1

ANIME TV AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 1-24 (600 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 HD Widescreen), English and Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 D

Release Date: August 15, 2017


Directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani

Series Composition by Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Tatsuya Katou

Character Design by Tomoyuki Shitaya

Art Director by Koichiro Bizen

Anime Production: J.C. Staff


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Blake Shepard as Sōma Yukihira

Minami Takahashi/Jad Saxton as Megumi Tadokoro

Risa Taneda/Stephanie Wittels as Erina Nakiri

Ai Kakuma/Juliet Simmons as Mayumi Kurase

Ai Kayano/Leraldo Anzaldua as Ryōko Sakaki

Asami Seto as Miyoko Hōjō

Banjou Ginga/John Swasey as Senzaemon Nakiri

Chinatsu Akasaki/Christina Kelly as Alice Nakiri

Junichi Suwabe/ as Akira Hayama

Junichi Yanagita/Andrew Love as Daigo Aoki

Kengo Kawanishi/Corey Hartzog as Shōji Satō

Maaya Uchida/Luci Christian as Yūki Yoshino

Mamiko Noto as Hinako Inui

Mikako Takahashi as Jun Shiomi

Natsuki Hanae/Bryan Baugus as Takumi Aldini

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Leraldo Anzaldua as Ryō Kurokiba

Rikiya Koyama/Jay Hickman as Jōichirō Yukihira

Rina Hidaka/Jennifer Gilbert as Urara Kawashima

Saori Goto/Karlii Hoch as Nao Sadasuka

Saori Ōnishi/Brittney Karbowski as Hisako Arato

Shizuka Ishigami/Rachel Landon as Ikumi Mito

Taishi Murata/Houston Hayes as Shun Ibusaki

Takahiro Sakurai/Scott Gibs as Satoshi Isshiki

Takehito Koyasu/Ty Mahany as Gin Dōjima

Tomokazu Sugita/Anthony Hunter as Etsuya Eizan

Yūichi Nakamura/Benjamin McLaughlin as Kojirō Shinomiya

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Greg Ayres as Zenji Marui

Yuuki Ono as Isami Aldini


Ever since he was little, Soma Yukihira’s main goals have been to beat his father in a cooking contest and take over the family diner. That’s why, when his dad suddenly announces that he’s shutting the restaurant down and sending Soma to cooking school, Soma is shocked. However, Tohtsuki Academy is no ordinary cooking school.

This elite institution is filled with culinary giants like Erina “God Tongue” Nakiri, who does her best to keep a lowly short-order like Soma from even making it inside the door. However, if the snobs can dish it out, Soma can serve it up, and when he learns that only a handful of the students manage to graduate every year, he swears that the only way he’ll leave is as number one!


In 2012, writer Yuto Tsukuda and artist Shun Saeki created their manga series “Shokugeki no Soma” which continues to be serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”.

The manga was voted #3 in the Nationwide Bookstore Employees “Recommend Comics of 2014” in Japan and voted #12 in the 2014 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” Top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey and continues to be a popular series in Japan.

In 2015, “Shokugeki no Soma”/Food Wars! would receive a 24-episode anime adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff and now the hit anime series has been released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series revolves around a young teen named Soma Yukihara who works for his father, chef Joichiro Yukihira, at their local restaurant.

Trained to cook at an early age and known for trying to combine various foods together as experiments, Soma has been known to cook dishes that make people feel they have tasted the best food ever to touch their tastebuds. But his goal is to someday beat his father in cooking.

But with landsharks trying to get control of the land to build condo units where the restaurant is located, one day while returning to the restaurant, everything inside is removed.

While Soma wants to rebuild, his father tells him that he will be closing the restaurant for two or three years to travel and as for Soma, he is enlisted in Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute where the elite of the elite attend and less than 10% of its students ever graduated.

But his father gives Soma a stern message, if he can’t make it at Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute, he will never beat him.

Determined to prove to his father that he can graduate as an elite cook, Soma is still looked down by his fellow students and faculty because unlike them, he is not wealthy and his family did not own a four or five star restaurant.

But Soma is determined to prove them wrong.

As Soma meets his fellow cooks and making new friends at the Polaris dorm, volume three focuses on Soma and his Polaris Dorm friends visiting the Totsuki Village to compete with other chefs in order to work at the Totsuki Hotel, where under five people have passed the test.

But as Soma and friends are getting ready, a young chef named Takumi Aldini makes himself known to Soma and becomes his rival.

Soma and his friends are participating in cooking pant, but to their surprise, they must figure out how to sell 200 dishes in a buffet location. That means creating food that will last and become tasty for a longer time. Can Soma figure out how to make meals that last instead of a meal that is meant to be eaten right away?

Meanwhile, during a visit back to his family restaurant, Soma finds out that business on Market St. is not going that well. How can he help to bring people back to the area?

Also, Soma and his fellow students find out they will be competing in the Fall Classic and finds out the theme will be about curry. But after meeting Akira Hayama, trained in the worlds best spices and great at making varieties of curry dishes, can Soma find a way to learn about the different spices in the world and compete against Hayama and the other competitors in the world.

The “Fall Classic” is a competition in which all 90 students must compete in making a special curry dish for the judges, but it’s not going to be easy. Especially after meeting Akira Hayama, a man trained in utilizing the best spices from all over the world to create delicious curry.

Having tasted his curry and seeing how great his curry really is, Soma must do all he can to research during summer vacation and come up with the best curry dish for the competition.


VIDEO:

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The series is well-animated, well-shaded and if anything, J.C. staff did a wonderful job of bringing Shun Saeki’s energetic and fun character designs to animation.  Vibrant, colorful and for the most part, the anime series looks great!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1” is presented in Japanese and English 2.0 DTS-HD MA. Dialogue and music on the Blu-ray are both crystal clear through the front channels and voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1” comes with the clean opening and ending credits.

 


As a big fan of manga and anime series about food and the culinary industry, “Food Wars! -Shokugeki no Soma” is a series that I absolutely enjoy.

For one, you have an antagonist that was cooking since he was young, often experimenting on different foods, even know that all his combinations are not always successful. But he also was brought up in a family restaurant and has to attend a school of elitist who think their food is the greatest and that they are more refined because they are wealthy.

So, it’s pretty awesome to see how far these people will put him down and until they eat his food, their reaction, and probably this may be the best word to describe their reaction to his food as “orgasmic”.

Literally, Shun Saeki draws these characters in so much pleasure that it’s rather humorous and possibly why the manga series is rated for Older Teens.

While the concept of cooking manga series has been around for decades in Japan, the fact is that there are only a few that have been released in America. “Oishinbo” by Tetsuya Kariya and Akira Hanasaki is one of the most popular cooking series of all time as it details a writer for a food magazine and also son of a notable food critic (who he does not get along with).

You also have “Toriko” but the cuisine is more fantasy than realistic. “Yakitate” which focuses on bread. And of course, there are cooking series popular in Japan such as “Cooking Papa”, “The Antique Bakery”, “Kitchen Palette”, “Kitchen Princess” to name a few.

But “Food Wars! -Shokugeki no Soma” has a fascinating way of combining the underdog storyline that we often see in sports manga series, bringing it to a cooking storyline but also add a few features that are not too mature but suggestive.

While Soma is the main character, you also have characters such as Erina Nakiri, the food critic that has the “God’s Tongue” and her review can easily destroy the career of any chef. And as part of the Elite 10 of Soma’s school, she has tried her best to get him disqualified because of his status but each time she has tried his food, she is even surprised by Soma’s talent but also his carefree attitude.

You also have Megumi Tadokoro, who came up in last place in the Institute’s high school advancement exam and has partnered with Soma and her fear of getting expelled due to her number of bad grades, has put her on the edge. But she learns that being partnered with Soma is not so bad after all.

As for the Blu-ray release, the anime series is vibrant and looks great in HD.  Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music and there are no special features but the clean opening and ending animations.

Overall, “Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma)” Season 1 has turned out to be one of my favorite anime series to watch on Blu-ray in 2017.  Energetic, fun and vibrant, the series left me craving for more and I can’t wait for a second season of “Food Wars!”.

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La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

November 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A series with a good amount of humor and action, while it’s a shame that fans of this anime series will not get to enjoy any of the “Arcana Famiglia” video game released in Japan, for those who enjoy otome games may find the anime series adaptation “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” to their liking. 

Image courtesy of © 2012 HuneX/Arcana Famiglia Partners. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 + OVA

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic, English and Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Showgate/Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 VD

Release Date: November 26, 2013

Directed by Chiaki Kon

Series Composition by Masanao Akahoshi

Storyboard by Chiaki Kon

Episode Director: Chiaki Kon

Music by Yasuhiro Misawa

Character Design by Mai Matsura

Original Character Design by Chiyomi Sara, Yomi Sarachi

Art Director: Takahiro Yoneda

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Blake Shepard as Liberta

Mamiko Noto/Luci Christian as Felicitá

Tsubasa Yonaga/Kara Greenberg as Nova

Fumihiko Tachiki/Rob Mungle as Mondo

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Jay Hickman as Debito

Juurouta Kosugi/Andrew Love as Dante

Koji Yusa/Chuck Huber as Jolly

Tomokazu Sugita/Kyle Jones as Pace

Yūichi Nakamura/Clint Bickham as Luca

Things are NOT going well for Felicita. For years, the island of Regalo has been protected by her father’s “organization,” the Arcana Tarocco. The organization’s success is due in no small part to the members’ unusual skills with Tarot Cards, not to mention their more usual guns and knives. But now her father has unexpectedly decided to retire and, while the fact that his position will be filled by the winner of a series of duels doesn’t worry Felicita, the fact that he’s decided to throw HER into the contest as part of the prize certainly does. Especially since some of the contestants are her cousins, which is keeping things in the family WAY too much!

 

Fortunately, our lady shark has two aces up her sleeve: as the head of the Swords Division, she’s eligible to compete for herself; and with her favored Card, The Lovers, she can snoop into the minds of her would-be suitors-cum-rivals. It’s just too bad they have their own card tricks!

 

Back in 2011, the Japanese visual novel titled “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” by HuneX and Comfort was released for teh Sony PSP, followed by a special fan disc and cooking game in 2012.

With the popularity of the game, a 12-episodes anime series adaptation from J.C. staff was created and was directed and storyboarded by Chiaki Kon (“Blue Dragon”, “Golden Time”, “Nodam Cantabile: Finale”), series composition by Masano Akahoshi (“Freezing”, “A Certain Magical Index”, “Tegami Bachi: Reverse”), music by Yasuniro Misawa (“Minami-Ke”, “Yuruyuri”), character designs by Mai Matsuura (“Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live”, “Uragiri wa Boku no Namae o Shitteiru”) and art direction by Takahiro Yoneda (“WATAMOTE”, “Sonic X”).

And now “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” is an anime about an organization known as “Arcana Famiglia”, a group that protects the island of Regalo.

The group consists of people who have made contracts with Arcana Cards and have special abilities derived from these cards.

The organization leader known as “Papa” has decided to retire and give a member of the organization the chance to take his seat, to take control of Arcana and marry  his daughter Felicita.

So, a tournament within the family called “Arcana Duello” will take place, against Felicita’s will as she wants to prove that she can make her own decisions.  And while others vow to fight for the right to be the next “Papa”, two of the younger members, Liberta and Nova (who like her) want to fight for her freedom and protect her.

But will they be able to?

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” focuses on the following characters:

Felicita – The only daughter of “Papa” (Mondo) and the leader of the Sword.  Her Arcana Card is #6 (The Lovers) which makes her have the power to read people’s hearts.

Liberta – A soldier of the Intelligence Division, Liberta’s Arcana Card is #0 (The Fool).  He has a big crush on Felicita.

Nova – Felicita’s childhood friend and cousin, his Arcana Card is #13 (Death) and is the Captain of the Holy Grail.  Feels guilty for putting his parents in a deep eternal sleep because they were plotting a rebellion against Mondo.  He has a crush on Felicita.  Often called “Chickpea” by Liberta and hates the nickname.

Debito – Known for wearing an eye patch, he is the Bipolar captain of the Coins and his Arcana is #9 (The Hermit) and can make himself invisible.

Pace – The captain of the Wands and often cheerful and happy.  He is a substitute Captain and his Arcana Card is #11 (Strength) which makes him have incredible strength.

Luca – Felicita’s personal butler who seems to have a crush on her.  His Arcana is #14 (Temperance) and often gets jealous when others do things with Felicita.

Jolly – Mondo’s right hand man and the second highest ranking member of the Family.  His Arcana is #18 (The Moon) which allows him to draw out a person’s memory. He is often seen as col and emotionless.  A master at alchemy.

Dante –  The  Head Captain  of the Family and his Arcana is #4 (The Emperor) which allows him to remove and manipulate memories.  He was a former pirate and is like a father to Liberta.

VIDEO & AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and is presented in Japanese and English 2.0.   It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality of this series, you will want to go for the Blu-ray version, which will be released on the same day as the DVD.

On DVD, the series is good, art backgrounds that are well-rendered and it’s highpoint is the action and the many art backgrounds for the series.  The DVD features the typical anime TV series softness but for the most part, the series is colorful and looks good.

But the biggest difference I found with this series is the Japanese versus English dub.  With the Japanese version, for the character of Nova, Tsubasa Yonaga has a deep masculine voice while the English dub version, he sounds like a woman.  I was surprised by the complete difference as Nova’s Japanese voice acting gives an impression of Nova as a kick-butt Famiglia members, while the English dub version doesn’t.

In fact, there is another scene where the cook for the series is a woman and sounds like a woman in Japanese but for the English dub, the woman obviously sounds like a man trying to pretend he’s speaking in a woman’s voice.

So, I found the Japanese voice acting to be much better and made the anime series feel more consistent to the action featured.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” comes with the clean opening and closing animation.

For fans of otome video games,  “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia: Complete Collection” is for you!

For those not familiar with what “otome” is, as “harem” anime typically are about a series featuring many women who fall for the same guy, “otome” is the opposite with many guys liking the female protagonist.  In the concept of the video game, “Arcana Famiglia”,  the female character Felicita must develop a romantic relationship with one of the many male members that like her or are a member of her father’s organization.

For the anime adaptation of the popular visual novel, because “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” is a story about an organization of guys with Arcana powers and one female member (Felicita) who is to be engaged to the winner of the “Arcana Duello” game.

Many of the guys want the position for power and control of the organization, while others are simply in love with Felicita and want to be with her or at least protect her.

Of course, Felicita is a person who believes in her own individual freedom and the anime series tries to showcase each man trying to show why they should be the special person in her life.  But can or will Felicita ever find the guy that she will love?

While the 12-episodes try to showcase each of the main male members and how they care for Felicita, there is also a story that revolves around her father being kidnapped by pirates, Nova trying to deal with his guilt for putting his parents through an eternal sleep and is one of the members of “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” a traitor?

As for the special OVA, what happens when members of the organization somehow switch bodies?

As for the DVD release, as mentioned, if you want very good picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray release is the way to go.  If your not picky over picture quality, then the DVD is perfectly fine as the series is a bit more on the soft side.  If there was one nitpick, it was the English voice acting as one will notice the apparent differences between the Japanese and English voice acting, especially for the character of Nova.  A prominent character with a lower, masculine voice in the Japanese version, while in the English dub, with a female voice actress providing the voice, it sort of reminds me of Venus Terzo’s voice acting of the old ’90s “Ranma 1/2” dub of male Ranma.  Something I was not a big fan of.

But I know dubbing is all subjective and whether and you do have a choice of whether to watch the series in Japanese or English.

A series with a good amount of humor and action, while it’s a shame that fans of this anime series will not get to enjoy any of the “Arcana Famiglia” video game released in Japan, for those who enjoy otome games may find the anime series adaptation “La Storia della Arcana Famiglia” to their liking.

Heaven’s Memo Pad – Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

inuyashamovies

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” is  a fascinating series from beginning to end, I can only hope that we see another season of the series because I’m hooked!  Beautiful animation, fun yet compelling story and fascinating characters! “Heaven’s Memo Pad” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Hikaru Sugii/ASCIIMEDIAWORKS/”Heaven’s Memo Pad”. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Heaven’s Memo Pad

YEAR OF RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 12 episodes (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV 14 VD

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RELEASE DATE: March 26, 2013

Originally created by Hikaru Sugii

Directed by Katsushi Sakurabi

Series Composition by Seishi Minakami

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Original Character Design by Mel Kishida

Character Design by Keiichi Sano

Art Director: Yutaka Onishi (bic-studio)

Chief Animation Director: Keiichi Sano

Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa

Anime Production: J.C. Staff

Featuring the voices of:

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Blake Shepard as Narumi Fujishima

Yui Ogura/Hilary Haag as Alice

Ai Kayano/Brittney Karbowski as Ayaka Shinozaki

Daisuke Ono/Illich Guardiola as Sōichirō “The Fourth” Hinamura

Hitomi Nabatame/Shelley Calene-Black as Min-san

Kouki Miyata/Greg Ayres as Major

Masaya Matsukaze/Adam Gibbs as Tetsu

Saki Ogasawara/Cynthia Martinez as Charuni “Meo” Kusakabe

Takahiro Sakurai/David Matranga as Hiro

Narumi Fujishima isn’t your typical high school student; he’s never really fit in and has been becoming increasingly more isolated from his fellow classmates. But he’s not alone, and when Ayaka, the sole member of the Gardening Club, introduces him to the reclusive girl who lives above the ramen shop, Narumi enters a whole new secret world. Alice is a NEET, someone who is Not Employed, being Educated or in Training, but as Narumi quickly discovers, that doesn’t mean that she does nothing all day. In between tending to her small army of stuffed bears, Alice is an expert hacker and very exclusive, private detective. To his surprise, Narumi finds himself drafted as one of the strange, but elite team of associates that Alice has assembled from her NEET acquaintances. Together they’ll battle gangs, thieves, murderers and drug lords. And in the middle of it all, Narumi will find his life changing forever in Heaven’s Memo Pad!

In Japan, the acronym NEET (which stands for not in education, employment, or training) tends to describe people who are shut-ins who avoid real life.  But also describing an otaku culture of people who are addicted to anime, video games and just don’t want to assimilate with society and rather stay inside the home without finding a job or pursuing any education.

But for light novel writer Hikaru Sugii and illustrator Mel Kishida, the two created a series known as “Kami-sama no Memo-cho” (God’s Memo Pad) to show a different side of NEET’s.

In 2007 and a total of eight volumes would be printed by ASCII Media Works.  In 2010, a manga adaptation of the series was illustrated by Tiv and featured in ASCII Media Wroks’ “Dengeki Daioh” magazine.

The anime adaptation was created in July through September 2011 and was produced by J.C. Staff.  And now the anime series, named “Heaven’s Memo Pad” has made its way to America on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series is directed by Katsushi Sakurabi (“Lunar Legend Tsukihime”, “Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru”, “Melody of Oblivion”, series composition by Seishi Minakami (“G-On Riders”, “Master Keaton”, “Kemonozume”, “Gunparade March”, “Toaru Kagaku no Railgun”), music by Taku Iwasaki (“Read or Die”, “Jojo’s bizarre Adventure”, “Gurren Lagann”, “Black Butler”), character design by Keiichi Sano (“A Certain Magical Index”, “A Certain Scientific Railgun”) and art backgrounds by Yutaka Onishi (“Girls und Panzer”).

The story centers around a not-so-involved high school student named Narumi Fujishima.   He is often wondering about the existence of humans and comparing them to pixels.

One day, while Narumi was walking by an area, he hears a woman scream and jumping out of a window and word of a guy who has been injured.  At first, a group comes to the rescue but think that Narumi is the assailant but they realize later that someone else is responsible.

The following day at school, his classmate Ayaka Shinozaki tries to have a conversation with him but since he’s not a social person, he is unaware of who she is.  And she tries to get him involved, primarily with the Garden Club, which now he and Ayaka are the only members.  She also has her visiting a group of friends that she wants to hook him up with.

When he arrives, he realizes that the group is the same people that accused him as an assailant the day before.  He learns that they are members of NEET, an amateur detective agency featuring unemployed people who solve cases.  And the NEED agency is led by a girl named Alice, a no-nonsense, anti-social NEET who has the appearance of a young girl and has stuffed animals around her plus a fridge full of her favorite soda, “Dokupe” (a pun on “Dr. Pepper”).  But inside her room are high-end monitors and computer equipment and video surveillance that allows her to see what is going on in the city but also top notch hacking skills, but also a high intelligence, especially when it comes to deductive skills.

She explains to Narumi that she is not a detective that investigates but uses her skills to help bring solace to those who have been killed and defends their cause.

And all of a sudden, Narumi becomes a member of NEET, working on various cases happening in the city.

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” features the following characters:

Narumi Fujishima – An introvert who lives with his sister, while his father doesn’t live with them as he tries to raise money for the family to survive.  He has nothing going on with life, until he meets his new friends who are NEET’s.

Alice – A mysterious girl that acts childish, but has high intellect, high level of deductive reasoning and is a hacker.  She is extremely introverted and is a NEET that is anti-social, lives with her stuffed animals and is constantly drinking her favorite soda “Dokupe”.  She likes to stay in the dark and often, Ayaka has to get her to take care of her hygiene.  Not much is known about how she has so much top notch equipment and what made her become the leader of the NEET Detective Team.

Ayaka Shinozaki – Always cheerful, Ayaka works part-time at a ramen shop known as Hanamaru.  She is a member of the Garden Club which she gets Narumi to join her.  She lives with her brother Toshi, a drug-addict (which she doesn’t know about but everyone else does).

Tetsu – An ex-boxer and loves to gamble.  He is a NEET detective with connections with the local police department.

Shosa  – Looks young but he is a military otaku who loves guns and camouflage and loves to build things to spy on people. He help set Alice’s equipment up and is a NEET detective.  Shosa (which means “Major”) is his nickname.

Hiro – A NEET detective and the driver of the group.  He is popular with women and is very stylish.  Always texting women but uses his connections to his advantage.

Soichiro “The Fourth” Hinamura – The leader of the NEET yakuza group known as Hirasaka-gumi.  He can be violent and cold but he is often helping Alice and is responsible for repairing her stuff animals.

Meo – A Thai teenager who was one of the client’s of the NEET Detective Agency but later becomes their friend.

Minli Huang – The owner of the Hanamaru Soup shop where the NEET Detectives hangout.  She cooks ramen, can be mean at times and is seen wearing a sarashi instead of a bra.

Renji Hirasaka – A new friend of Narumi and a NEET who has a connection to “The Fourth”.

VIDEO:

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  As a fan of the work from J.C. Staff, the character designs for the anime series.  It’s important to remember that this is a TV series and not an OVA, so you are going to see a bit of softness at times.  But for the most part, this series is colorful, character designs are really well-done and are well-shaded.  Art backgrounds are well-detailed and while the series does utilize a lot of close-ups, the capturing of emotion and city surroundings is nicely done.

AUDIO:

The lossless soundtrack features an English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack.  While the series is front-channel driven, both are equal when it comes to the use of the front channels.  As for voice acting, both are also well-done and acting from both the Japanese and American talent will satisfy viewers.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” comes with the clean opening and closing animation.  Plus Sentai trailers.

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” is an enjoyable anime series about an introverted teenager who makes new friends when he joins their NEET Detective Agency.

Part of the fascinating points of why people will enjoy this series are its characters.  While Narumi is the introvert, it’s hard to see how these others are NEET’s but they are.  Alice is an intelligent hacker, but one must wonder how this teenager is not in school, not living with parents and has access to this expensive hardware.  We don’t know too much about Alice but she is the key person that everyone tries to protect and works for.

You also have a group of characters that seem unlikely NEET’s, Ayaka, the happy teen; Tetsuo the boxer/gambler; Major the military otaku and Hiroaki the gigolo.  And then you have a yakuza leader known as “The Fourth” but he runs a group full of troglodyte members who thinks Narumi is a master for being able to do the most simplest things on the computer.

So, because of these characters, you can’t help but laugh and gigle at times.

Especially when it comes to Narumi and Alice.  Because Alice is anti-social and really doesn’t get out much, the group puts in her head that Narumi sniff’s her dolls, since she sleeps with them so closely.  So, she kind of thinks that Narumi is a pervert.  And quite often, Ayaka and even Meo try to give Alice a bath or hair treatment, but when she calls Narumi for help, by the time Narumi gets there, the girls think that Narumi is trying to get a sneak peak and is labeled a pervert.  So, there are some fun and crazy moments throughout the anime series.

But of course, each episode revolves around a case.  From a Thai girl named Meo’s who’s father is missing but all they have is a bag full of money.  Was her father connected to organized crime? Another features The Fourth going to Narumi to help with promotions for  band. Another situation revolving around a person once connected with “The Fourth”, to the group taking part in a baseball game against a yakuza leader who was once a star pitcher.  But the most emotional episodes relate to Narumi, as the return of Ayaka’s brother has led to trouble and with her in a coma.

Suffice to say, while the series has its share of laughs and serious moments, the final three episodes are my favorite because we get to see everyone really going all out to help their friend who nearly died from an attempted suicide.  And Narumi and Alice are intent on finding out why someone so cheerful, tried to end her life.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good in HD, lossless stereo soundtrack is good but not too immersive since it’s more of a front-channel dialogue-driven series.  And for special features, it’s primarily the clean opening and ending animation.

Overall, “Heaven’s Memo Pad” is  a fascinating series from beginning to end, I can only hope that we see another season of the series because I’m hooked!  Beautiful animation, fun yet compelling story and fascinating characters!

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” is recommended!

A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series with characters that eventually grow on you overtime.  Again, it is different from “A Certain Magical Index” but that’s probably a good thing as the series focuses more on the friendships of the girls trying to enjoy teenage life but yet have super abilities.  If you enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index” or an anime fan who is looking for an action series that is fun and primarily featuring all female characters, definitely give “A Certain Scientific Railgun” a chance!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two

DURATION: Episodes 13-24

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Originally created by Kazuma Kamachi

Original Manga by Motoi Fuyukawa

Original Character Designs by Kiyotaka Haimura

Directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai

Series Composition by Seishi Minakami

Music by Maiko Iuchi

Character Design by Yuichi Tanaka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda

Mecha Animation Director: Yukinobu Tuneki

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Rina Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mikoto Misaka

Satomi Arai/Alison Viktorin as Kuroko Shirai

Aki Toyosaki/Cherami Leigh as Kazari Uiharu

Atsuko Tanaka/Anastasia Munoz as Harumi Kiyama

Kana Ueda/Trina Nishimura as Mii Konori

Kanae Itō/Brina Palencia as Ruiko Saten

Minako Kotobuki/Jamie Marchi as Mitsuko Kongō

Misaka’s electro-manipulation abilities – and delightfully destructive Railgun projectile move – make her a rockstar in Academy City. The techno-metropolis is packed with supernaturally powered students known as espers, including Misaka’s flirty friend and roommate, Kuroko. She uses her teleportation skills as a member of the Judgment law enforcement team, fighting crime alongside her fellow agent Uiharu.

Joined by their friend Saten, a spunky Level 0 esper, Misaka, Kuroko, and Uiharu have a blast taking on danger whenever and wherever it arises. Luckily, in a city full of super-powered gangs, mad scientists, and the occasional weird monster, the girls have no problem finding plenty of excitement, action, and adventure!

Contains episodes 13-24.

What is causing the “Poltergeist” incidents around the city and are multiple espers suffering from RSPK syndrome and losing control of their abilities simultaneously? Mikoto and friends try to find out in “A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two”!

In 2004, writer Kazuma Kamachi and illustrator Kiyotaka Haimura began working on the light novel series “Toaru Majutsu no Index” (A Certain Magical Index). The novel would then receive a manga adaptation in 2007 which was published on “Monthly Shonen Gangan” and a year later, receiving an 24-episode anime adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff, followed by a second season airing in 2010-2011.

The series would go on to have a spinoff manga series titled “A Certain Scientific Railgun” (Toaru Kagaku no Rerugan) which would be published in 2007 and a release in the US in 2011. The anime series for “A Certain Scientific Railgun” aired on Tokyo MX in 2009-2010 and with the second season airing in Japan in April 2013 titled “Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S”, FUNimation is releasing the first season on DVD in America on April 16, 2013.

Like “A Certain Magical Index”, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is produced by J.C. Staff and is directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai (“My-HIME”, “anohana: The Flower We Saw that Day”, “Waiting in the Summer”), series composition by Seishi Minakami (“Birdy the Mighty: Decode”, “Shakugan no Shana III: Final”, “Living for the Day After Tomorrow”, “Bakuman”), music by Maiko Iuchi (“Dog Days”, “Waiting in the Summer”), character designs by Yuichi Tanaka (“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”, “Natsuiro Kiseki”, “Samurai 7”) and art direction by Tomonori Kuroda (“Sola”, “Aria the Scarlet Ammo”, “Ai Yori Aoishi”, “Hayate the Combat Butler!!”).

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is set during the same time of “A Certain Magical Index” and in Academy City, a technologically advanced academic city located in Western Tokyo which studies scientifically advanced superhuman students with powers. Some who join an organization known as Judgment and using their special abilities for good and keeping peace in the city.

The series focuses on Mikoto Misaka, an electromaster and the third most powerful of the seven Level 5 espers in Academy City. Mikoto attends Tokiwadai Middle School, one of the elite schools in the city.

The city is currently holding a “System Scan” to test the power levels of several schools including Tokiwadai Middle School.

In the latter part of the first half of the season, it was revealed that Dr. Kiyama was assigned by her boss, Gensei Kihara, to be a teacher of a group of “Child Errors” and prepare them for an experiment.  Dr. Kiyama began to be fond of these children but somehow these children had ended up in comas and Kihara covered it up.

So, Dr. Kiyama has been trying to find ways to save her students using a Tree Diagram, but was denied. And due to the frustrations that she experienced, an AIM burst had manifested.  And the result was Mikoto taking on the AIM Burst.

By second season, it’s back to the fun and games for the girls.  Episode 13, begins with the group participating in a swimsuit photoshoot, Mitsuko gets attacked by the Skill-Out gang Big Spider but is saved by a mysterious red-headed man with a spider tattoo.  A man who may have a link to Mii.

As the group participates in a video game battle, a trip to the park and Midsummer festival, things start to go crazy once against when a Poltergeist incident occurs where the girls are.  Is it Dr. Kiyama or is someone else involved?

The main characters of “A Certain Scientific Railgun” are:

  • Mikoto Misaka – A powerful Electromaster who is known as “The Railgun”. She attends Tokiwadai Middle School, a school for the wealthy and one of the elite schools of Academy City. She also has a strong sense of morals and hates injustice.
  • Kuroko Shirai – A level 4 psychic and a member of Judgment. She is an eser that can teleport and has a big crush on Mikoto. She gets very jealous when others get Mikoto’s attention, especially Toma.
  • Kazari Uiharu – A student at Sakugawa Middle School and a member of Judgment. Best friends with Ruiko Saten and is known for wearing flowers on her head. Often shy and humble, but known for her sweet tooth.
  • Mitsuko Kongou – A student at Tokiwadai Middle School that can utilize the “Aero Hand”. She is Kuroko’s rival.
  • Ruiko Saten – A student at Sakugawa Middle School who does not have an esper ability. Best friends with Kazari Uiharu and is addicted to urban legends.
  • Mii Konori – A member of Judgement and senpai to Kuroko and Uiharu. She is also the Chief of the 177th Branch of Judgment and has the power of X-ray vision.
  • Telestina Kihara Lifeline – The head of the Multi Active Rescue unit (MAR) and is currently investigating earthquakes happening in Academy City.
  • Toma Kamijo – The main protagonist for “A Certain Magical Index”. A teenager who has a high sense of justice and despite having a psychic rank of zero, has a mysterious power of the Imagine Breaker which nullifies all magic, psychic or divine powers and unfortunately, his good luck. But because of his sense of justice, each person he comes in contact with develop respect or love towards Toma because of his willingness to protect them.
  • Dr. Harumi Kiyama – A Cerebral physiologist who tends to want to take off her clothes when she’s hot.  Revealed to be a scientist trying to save a group of children that she experimented on.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is an anime series presented in 1080p High Definition. Art backgrounds are well-detailed, with some environements looking very beautiful and character designs are well-shaded. For those familiar with “A Certain Magical Index” will be familiar with J.C. Staff’s style to this anime series. But for the most part, the series looks very good and surprised it was not released on Blu-ray.

Audio is presented in English 5.1 surround and Japanese stereo. The English soundtrack has better dynamic range as one would expect form its 5.1 soundtrack compared to the front-channel driven Japanese stereo track. Voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 17 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Jade Saxton (Komoe), Martha Harnes (Yomokawa) and Kara Edwards (Tesso).
  • Episode 24 Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by Zac Bolton (ADR Director), Colleen Clinkenbeard (Therestina) and Anastasia Munoz (Kiyama).
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs – Textless version of “Only My Railgun”, “Level 5”, “Dear My Friend” and “Real Force”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

For those looking for an anime series with a dose of humor, fun and action, will surely find “A Certain Scientific Railgun” to their liking.

A bit different from “A Certain Magical Index” which had a more darker storyline, a big part of the charm of “A Certain Scientific Railgun” are its characters and their mannerisms.

And after a considerable battle featured in the first half, things become more fun as the girls partake in a bikini photoshoot, going to the park, going to the festival but also dealing with people from one’s past.  But for those wanting those major battles and that special twist will surely find it by episode 20.

But for the most part, this is a series about friendship and a group of girls with abilities that somehow get involved in situations involving criminals or bad people. We see both Mikoto and Kuroko get into the thick of things but we eventually learn each other’s character traits. Mikoto’s naiveness, Kuroko who is from Judgment is still a girl with a teenage crush on Mikoto and then other characters who lend their expertise (or somehow get involved in the trouble), getting themselves involved.

And of course, the humor with Kuroko always wanting to glomp Mikoto or Dr. Kiyama always wanting to take off her clothes when hot, is quite funny because it always happens in the most unexpected situations.

But there is this underlying storyline created from the first half that relates to the Poltergeist incidents and the girls wondering if Dr. Kiyama is up to no good or is she a person worth trusting?  Also, a new antagonist is revealed, and I suppose one can say “expect the unexpected” when the reveal is made.

As for the DVD, the animation and art background by J.C. Staff is very well done. It does surprise me that there is no Blu-ray release of this series but for the most part, the series is well-acted on both English and in Japanese with the English getting a better treatment with its 5.1 soundtrack over its Japanese 2.0 counterpart. But fans should be pleased with the animation, art and voice acting of “A Certain Scientific Railgun”. Also, you get two audio commentaries included in part one.

Is there anything negative about the series, really there isn’t anything that I can think of that is negative unless one compares it to the more action-driven “A Certain Magical Index”. But it’s good to keep things different and “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is more upbeat and fun, but you can also expect a good dose of action as well.

Overall, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series with characters that eventually grow on you overtime.  Again, it is different from “A Certain Magical Index” but that’s probably a good thing as the series focuses more on the friendships of the girls trying to enjoy teenage life but yet have super abilities.

If you enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index” or an anime fan who is looking for an action series that is fun and primarily featuring all female characters, definitely give “A Certain Scientific Railgun” a chance!

A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series that is recommended for fans who enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index”!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part One

DURATION: Episodes 1-12

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Originally created by Kazuma Kamachi

Original Manga by Motoi Fuyukawa

Original Character Designs by Kiyotaka Haimura

Directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai

Series Composition by Seishi Minakami

Music by Maiko Iuchi

Character Design by Yuichi Tanaka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda

Mecha Animation Director: Yukinobu Tuneki

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Rina Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mikoto Misaka

Satomi Arai/Alison Viktorin as Kuroko Shirai

Aki Toyosaki/Cherami Leigh as Kazari Uiharu

Atsuko Tanaka/Anastasia Munoz as Harumi Kiyama

Kana Ueda/Trina Nishimura as Mii Konori

Kanae Itō/Brina Palencia as Ruiko Saten

Minako Kotobuki/Jamie Marchi as Mitsuko Kongō

Misaka’s electro-manipulation abilities – and delightfully destructive Railgun projectile move – make her a rock star in Academy City. The techno-metropolis is packed with supernaturally powered students known as espers, including Misaka’s flirty friend and roommate, Kuroko. She uses her teleportation skills as a member of the Judgment law enforcement team, fighting crime alongside her fellow agent Uiharu.

Joined by their friend Saten, a spunky Level 0 esper, Misaka, Kuroko, and Uiharu have a blast taking on danger whenever and wherever it arises. Luckily, in a city full of super-powered gangs, mad scientists, and the occasional weird monster, the girls have no problem finding plenty of excitement, action, and adventure!

In 2004, writer Kazuma Kamachi and illustrator Kiyotaka Haimura began working on the light novel series “Toaru Majutsu no Index” (A Certain Magical Index).  The novel would then receive a manga adaptation in 2007 which was published on “Monthly Shonen Gangan” and a year later, receiving an 24-episode anime adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff, followed by a second season airing in 2010-2011.

The series would go on to have a spinoff manga series titled “A Certain Scientific Railgun” (Toaru Kagaku no Rerugan) which would be published in 2007 and a release in the US in 2011. The anime series for “A Certain Scientific Railgun” aired on Tokyo MX in 2009-2010 and with the second season airing in Japan in April 2013 titled “Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S”, FUNimation is releasing the first season on DVD in America on April 16, 2013.

Like “A Certain Magical Index”, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is produced by J.C. Staff and is directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai (“My-HIME”, “anohana: The Flower We Saw that Day”, “Waiting in the Summer”), series composition by Seishi Minakami (“Birdy the Mighty: Decode”, “Shakugan no Shana III: Final”, “Living for the Day After Tomorrow”, “Bakuman”), music by Maiko Iuchi (“Dog Days”, “Waiting in the Summer”), character designs by Yuichi Tanaka (“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”, “Natsuiro Kiseki”, “Samurai 7”) and art direction by  Tomonori Kuroda (“Sola”, “Aria the Scarlet Ammo”, “Ai Yori Aoishi”, “Hayate the Combat Butler!!”).

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is set during the same time of “A Certain Magical Index” and in Academy City, a technologically advanced academic city located in Western Tokyo which studies scientifically advanced superhuman students with powers.  Some who join an organization known as Judgment and using their special abilities for good and keeping peace in the city.

The series focuses on Mikoto Misaka, an electromaster and the third most powerful of the seven Level 5 espers in Academy City.  Mikoto attends Tokiwadai Middle School, one of the elite schools in the city.

The city is currently holding a “System Scan” to test the power levels of several schools including Tokiwadai Middle School.

In the first few episodes, we are introduced to a few members of Judgment and how they become friends with Mikooto and how some of them use their abilities against criminals.  Meanwhile, Mikoto is irked whenever she runs into a guy named Toma Kamijo, a teenager who has a high sense of justice and despite having a psychic rank of zero, has a mysterious power of the Imagine Breaker which nullifies all magic, psychic or divine powers and unfortunately, his good luck. But because of his sense of justice, each person he comes in contact with develop respect or love towards Toma because of his willingness to protect them.   For Mikoto, she is unaware of her feelings but knowing that for some reason, Toma bothers her.

Meanwhile, the girls begin to work with Dr. Kiyama, but is she friend or foe?

The main characters of “A Certain Scientific Railgun” are:

  • Mikoto Misaka – A powerful Electromaster who is known as “The Railgun”. She attends Tokiwadai Middle School, a school for the wealthy and one of the elite schools of Academy City. She also has a strong sense of morals and hates injustice.
  • Kuroko Shirai – A level 4 psychic and a member of Judgment.  She is an eser that can teleport and has a big crush on Mikoto.  She gets very jealous when others get Mikoto’s attention, especially Toma.
  • Kazari Uiharu – A student at Sakugawa Middle School and a member of Judgment.  Best friends with Ruiko Saten and is known for wearing flowers on her head.  Often shy and humble, but known for her sweet tooth.
  • Mitsuko Kongou –  A student at Tokiwadai Middle School that can utilize the “Aero Hand”. She is Kuroko’s rival.
  • Ruiko Saten – A student at Sakugawa Middle School who does not have an esper ability.  Best friends with Kazari Uiharu and is addicted to urban legends.
  • Mii Konori  – A member of Judgement and senpai to Kuroko and Uiharu.  She is also the Chief of the 177th Branch of Judgment and has the power of X-ray vision.
  • Telestina Kihara Lifeline – The head of the Multi Active Rescue unit (MAR) and is currently investigating earthquakes happening in Academy City.
  • Toma Kamijo – The main protagonist for “A Certain Magical Index”. A teenager who has a high sense of justice and despite having a psychic rank of zero, has a mysterious power of the Imagine Breaker which nullifies all magic, psychic or divine powers and unfortunately, his good luck. But because of his sense of justice, each person he comes in contact with develop respect or love towards Toma because of his willingness to protect them.
  • Dr. Harumi Kiyama – A Cerebral physiologist who tends to want to take off her clothes when she’s hot.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is an anime series presented in 1080p High Definition.  Art backgrounds are well-detailed, with some environements looking very beautiful and character designs are well-shaded.  For those familiar with “A Certain Magical Index” will be familiar with J.C. Staff’s style to this anime series.  But for the most part, the series looks very good and surprised it was not released on Blu-ray.

Audio is presented in English 5.1 surround and Japanese stereo. The English soundtrack has better dynamic range as one would expect form its 5.1 soundtrack compared to the front-channel driven Japanese stereo track. Voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 3 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Brina Palencia (Ruiko) and Cherami Leigh (Kazari).
  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by Brittney Karbowski (Mikoto) and Alison Viktorin (Kuroko).
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs – Textless version of “Only My Railgun” and “Dear My Friend”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

For those who have watched “A Certain Magical Index” and enjoyed the anime series, will find “A Certain Scientific Railgun” to be a show that continues the fun and humor of the series but also its action and that is one thing viewers can expect from this series, to be action-packed!

While I enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index” for its darker tone, “A Certain Scientific Railgun”, for its first half of the season, is primarily character building episodes.  Featuring a variety of female characters who are friends of Mikoto and how each of them are around her and how they get involved in a variety of cases or happen to be in the wrong place in the wrong time.

There is a difference between the two series.  With “A Certain Magical Index”, there was this back-story revolving around Index and people trying to capture her and of course, Toma being a low level Esper but actually having a special ability that makes him even more powerful than other powerful Espers.  But we get to see how Mikoto ends up running into Toma and the correlation between both series.

But for the most part, this is a series about friendship and a group of girls with abilities that somehow get involved in situations involving criminals or bad people.  We see both Mikoto and Kuroko get into the thick of things but we eventually learn each other’s character traits.  Mikoto’s naiveness, Kuroko who is from Judgment is still a girl with a teenage crush on Mikoto and then other characters who lend their expertise (or somehow get involved in the trouble), getting themselves involved.

And of course, the humor with Kuroko always wanting to glomp Mikoto or Dr. Kiyama always wanting to take off her clothes when hot, is quite funny because it always happens in the most unexpected situations.

But the series does start to get a bit darker and more complex around episode 9.  Especially when the girls become intrigued with a “Level Upper” that levels up a person’s skills.  But is it real or a myth?

As for the DVD, the animation and art background by J.C. Staff is very well done. It does surprise me that there is no Blu-ray release of this series but for the most part, the series is well-acted on both English and in Japanese with the English getting a better treatment with its 5.1 soundtrack over its Japanese 2.0 counterpart. But fans should be pleased with the animation, art and voice acting of “A Certain Scientific Railgun”. Also, you get two audio commentaries included in part one.

Is there anything negative about the series, really there isn’t anything that I can think of that is negative unless one compares it to the more action-driven “A Certain Magical Index”.  But it’s good to keep things different and “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is more upbeat and fun, but you can also expect a good dose of action as well.

Overall, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series that is recommended for fans who enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index”!

A Certain Magical Index: Season One, Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

January 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“A Certain Magical Index” is an entertaining, complex, fun and exciting anime series from beginning to end and a series that I recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: A Certain Magical Index: Season One, Part Two

DURATION: Episodes 13-24

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: December 18, 2012

Originally created by Kazuma Kamachi

Original Character Designs by Kiyotaka Haimura

Directed by Hiroshi Nishikiori

Series Composition by Masanao Akahoshi

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by I’ve, Maiko Iuchi

Character Design by Yuichi Tanaka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda, Yoshinori Hirose

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Atsushi Abe/Micah Solusod as Toma Kamijo

Yuka Iguchi/Monica Rial as Index

Akeno Watanabe/Stephanie Young as Sherry Cromwell

Anri Katsu/Newton Pittman as Motoharu Tsuchimikado

Kana Asumi/Alexis Tipton as Hyouka Kazakiri

Kimiko Koyama/Jad Saxton as Komoe Tsukuyomi

Kishô Taniyama/Robert McCollum as Stiyl Magnus

Mamiko Noto/Lindsay Seidel as Aisa Himegami

Misato Fukuen/Lara Woodhull as Maika Tsuchimikado

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Austin Tindle as Accelerator

Nozomi Sasaki as Misaka’s Younger Sister

Rina Hidaka/Brittney Karbowski as Last Order

Rina Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mikoto Misaka

Satomi Arai/Allison Viktorin as Kuroko Shirai

Shizuka Itou as Kaori Kanzaki

Tomokazu Sugita/Jason Liebrecht as Aureolus Izzard

Yuka Terasaki/Kate Oxley as Misha=Kruschschev

Yuko Kaida/Martha Harms as Aiho Yomikawa

Kamijo is a student in Academy City, where people use science to develop supernatural abilities. The guy’s got a lot of heart – luckily for a young nun named Index. She’s on the run from a sorcery society that covets the astonishing 103,000 volumes of magical knowledge stored in her memory. When Index stumbles into Kamijo’s life, she find a faithful friend and protector, and while Kamijo’s easily the weakest kid in Academy City, he’s got something else going for him: the Imagine Breaker, an unexplainable power stored in his right hand that negates the powers of others. With scientists and sorcerers attacking from all sides, the Imagine Breaker will definitely come in handy – but it’s Kamijo’s loyalty to Index that will be his greatest weapon in the fight to keep her safe.

In 2004, writer Kazuma Kamachi and illustrator Kiyotaka Haimura began working on the light novel series “Toaru Majutsu no Index” (A Certain Magical Index).

The novel would then receive a manga adaptation in 2007 which was published on “Monthly Shonen Gangan” and a year later, receiving an 24-episode anime adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff, followed by a second season airing in 2010-2011.

The series would go on to have a spinoff manga series titled “A Certain Scientific Railgun” which would be published in 2007 and a release in the US in 2011. An OVA series was released in 2010 and a second season is set to air this year.

The series is directed by Hiroshi Nishikiori (“Angelic Layer”, “Gad Guard”, “Ghost Slayers Ayashi”), screenplay written by Masano Akahoshi (“Duel Masters”, “Freezing”, “Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians”, “Zone of Enders”), character design by Yuichi Tanaka (“Last Exile”, “NieA 7”, “Desert Punk”) and art direction by Tomonori Kuroda (“Familiar of Zero”, “Guin Saga”, “Hayate the Combat Butler”, “Sola”) and Yoshinori Hirose (“Familiar of Zero”, “Ikki Tousen”, “Shakugan no Shana”, “Sola”).

With the popularity of the series, FUNimation has licensed the first seasons of “A Certain Magical Index” and “A Certain Scientific Railgun” and the first series was released in two parts on DVD in December 2012.

What has happened so far in “A Certain Magical Index”:

“A Certain Magical Index” takes place in an alternate version of Tokyo where students of Academy City (an advanced academic city) are scientifically advanced and use magic. But there is one student who is a failure in his esper studies but he does have a strong pride when it comes to justice, teenager Toma Kamijo.

But despite being at the lowest psychic rank possible (level 0) at Academy City, he has an undetectable power, something he doesn’t know too much about called the “Imagine Breaker”. His right hand has the power to negate all magic, psychic or divine powers. Unfortunately, it also negates all his good luck.

One day, he ends up getting into a duel against a powerful level 5 psychic named Mikoto Misaka. Mikoto can control and generate electricity and when the two fight, a blackout ensues. Toma ends up waking up to find a young nun from the Church of England hanging off his balcony. He finds out her name is Index and that she is being chased down by magicians because she has 103,000 grimoires.

With his sense of justice, Toma wants to protect Index from harm and both become friends. Index also explains to Toma about his power of the “Imagine Breaker” on his right hand and how his power is very special.

One day after returning home, he finds Index bleeding and suffering and standing there is sorcerer Stiyl Magnus. Stiyl explains that his partner Kaori unintentionally hurt Index and his mission was to protect her as she has the power of photographic memory. Not liking how Stiyl talks about Index, Toma is intent on protecting her and a battle ensues. To Stiyl’s shock, Toma is able to nullify his spells. Stiyl then sends his powerful fire creature Innocentius on Toma, but once again, Toma negates it and Toma ends up beating him.

Needing help to heal Index, he goes to the only person he knows that he can help her, his teacher Komoe Tsukuyomi (who has an appearance of a child but is actually an adult). Komoe has no esper abilities but she can assist with magic spells and the ability to heal Index. Through Index, Toma learns that she belongs to the organization Necessarius and that Index-Librorum-Prohibitorum was implanted into Index’s mind. She is a living library to the church and because the things that she reads are very powerful and she has read the original books that can be used against Necessarius.

Toma meanwhile encounters the other sorcerer from Necessarius. Kaori demands Toma to turn over Index, but he refuses. She demonstrates her power to him and that she can easily slay him but his sense of justice comes out and he tells her that all he wants to do is protect her. Kaori reveals that she and Index are actually good friends and that when Index got hurt, it wasn’t suppose to happen as her magical garb was to protect her (but Toma’s magic negated the magic on her clothing).

She then reveals to Toma that the entire Index-Librorum-Prohibitorum takes up 85% of Index’s memory and that the remaining 15% needs to be erased eacy year to save Index from straining her mind from unnecessary memories. And that she has three days left until her limit is reached. So, she needs to take Index back. Toma refuses and asks Kaori how they can call themselves her good friends when they never consider Index’s feelings and asks Kaori why she wouldn’t try to protect him.

While Stiyl and Kaori go to retrieve Index, Kome reveals to both of them that humans can never suffer or die from being overloaded with information and that the church regularly erased Index’s memory to ensure her loyalty to them.

Believing Kome, the two realize they have been misled. But knowing the complexities of what is happening, a deal is struck and Stiyl working with Aleister Crowley, the ruler of Academic City asks for Aleister to lend Toma to him for an assignment to rescue “Deep Blood”, those who are capable of killing vampires, from a magician in Academy City.

It was revealed in the first half of the series that Mikoto Misaka was tricked by Academy City’s scientist by taking her DNA which was to be used to cure people suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy but instead, her DNA was used to create military-grade combat clones of her.  And because they were created to be level 5 combat clones under a project known as “Project Radio Noise”, when the sisters were deemed weaker at level 3, they were then used for another project called “Level 6 Shift” in which 20,000 of them were created to be killed in order to make someone a Level 6 psychic, which Accelerator wants to be.

And now Toma wants to rescue these clones which he calls them as Mikoto’s little sisters.   Unlike Mikoto, these sisters are without emotion but they are not sure why they feel a special bond to Toma.  But they know they will do what they can to help him defeat Accelerator.

The next antagonist that Toma must take on is Sherry Cromwell, a sorcerer of Necessarius who is intent of creating conflict between Academy City and Necessarius.

But can Toma and friends stop this powerful sorcerer?

The main characters of “A Certain Magical Index” are:

  • Toma Kamijo – The main protagonist. A teenager who has a high sense of justice and despite having a psychic rank of zero, has a mysterious power of the Imagine Breaker which nullifies all magic, psychic or divine powers and unfortunately, his good luck. But because of his sense of justice, each person he comes in contact with develop respect or love towards Toma because of his willingness to protect them.  In episode 6, while trying to save Index, his memories were destroyed.
  • Index – A young nun from Necessarius, a branch of the Church of England. She is literally possesses a photographic memory in which the 103,000 magical texts of Index-Librorum-Prohibitorum is implanted on her. These texts known as the Grimoires take up 85% of her mind and the 0ther 15% is used for daily activities. Because of this, her life span to live normally is less than a year as they tend to erase her memory when it comes to its limit.
  • Mikoto Misaka – A powerful Electromaster who is known as “The Railgun”. She attends Tokiwadai Middle School, a school for the wealthy and one of the elite schools of Academy City. She also has a strong sense of morals and hates injustice.  When she was young, she was tricked into giving her DNA to scientist to help cure Duchenne muscular dystrophy but in truth, her DNA was used to create clones that were originally intended to be used by military but due to the clones not achieving level 5, they are now being used as fodder for Accelerator who is trying to become the first Level 6 esper.
  • Accelerator – The most powerful esper in Academy City and an antagonist of the series. He has joined an experiment to become the first Level 6 psychic, but he must kill 128 skilled level 5 psychics or 20,000 skilled Level 3 psychics.
  • Komoe Tsukuyomi – A teacher at Academy City who has the appearance of a child. She is one of the seven greatest mysteries of Academy City who doesn’t have any esper powers but she is capable of assisting in magic spells and healing.
  • Stiyl Magnus – A sorcerer from Necessarius and also a heavy smoker. He specializes in fire power and has a short temper. He is a diplomat to Academy City on behalf of the Angelic Church and is sent on missions which involve Toma and Index.
  • Kaori Kanzaki– A sorceress from Necessarius who wields a nodachi known as the “Seven Heaven Seven Swords”. She looks at Index as a sister but she became cold and silent when her friend began not to to trust her. But she sees Toma’s strong sense of justice and wants him to protect her.
  • Hyoka Kazakiri – The first friend that Index makes in Academy City.  Very smart but also a very powerful psychic.
  • Misaka 10032 – A clone who loves cats and the second sister clone that Toma met.  She has the most interaction with Toma and because Toma doesn’t think of her as a clone but an individual life, she and her sisters are committed in helping Toma defeat Accelerator.
  • Last Order – A Misaka clone (no. 20001) who is the administrator of the Misaka network and is the fail-safe mechanism if any of the sister clones get out of control.
  • Ao Amai – A former researcher involved with “The Sisters” project, which he help fund and is bitter after Toma and Mikoto gets involved to thwart his experiment and leaving him in debt.
  • Kikyo Yoshikawa – Academy City’s researcher in charge of the “Level 6 Shift” project.
  • Sherry Cromwell – A sorcerer of Necessarius who is a talented decoder and has the power to summon a golem.  She seeks to get her revenge on Academy City and Necessarius and tries to create a war between the two factions.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

I have to admit that I was surprised that “A Certain Magical Index” was not released on Blu-ray. But J.C. staff did a fine job with the animation and also the detail of the art backgrounds were very well done! Characters and backgrounds are well-detailed, well-shaded and look better than a lot of TV series. So, I was impressed.

Audio is presented in English 5.1 surround and Japanese stereo. The English soundtrack has better dynamic range as one would expect form its 5.1 soundtrack compared to the front-channel driven Japanese stereo track. Voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done! Micah Solusod, Monica Rial, Brittney Karbowski and others do a fantastic job and I have to say this series is one of Micah’s best voice work. On the Japanese end, Atsushi Abe, Yuka Iguchi and Rina Satou are also wonderful!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Certain Magical Index: Season One, Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 14 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Brittney Karbowski (Misaka), Austin Tindle (Accelerator) and Micah Solusod (Toma)
  • Episode 23 Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by Monica Rial (Index), Stephanie Young (Sheryl Cromwell), Alexis Tipton (Hyoka).
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs – Textless version of “PSI-Missing”, “Masterpie” and “Rimless ~Fuchinashi no Sekai~” and “To Aru Majutsu no Index”.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “A Certain Magical Index”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

“A Certain Magical Index” is an exciting, smart and entertaining anime series that will instantly captivate you!

And here we are with the second half of the series in “A Certain Magical Index: Season One, Part Two” and the missions continue as Toma along with the sister clones of Mikoto Misaka take on Accelerator.  And just when things seem to cool down, Toma and friends take on another powerful adversary, the sorcerer Sheryl Cromwell!

There are also three more other stories, one which revolve around “Angel Fall”, a spell which has changed people’s appearances and Toma’s parents are in the middle of it.  In the second side story, Mikoto is being stalked by Mitsuki Unabara and in order to have him stop stalking her, she pretends to go on a date with Toma.  And a third story which revolves around Accelerator who hangs out with a younger Misaka clone known as “Last Order”.  But what happens when Ao Amai injects a virus into Last Order?

Suffice to say, there are a good number of stories featured in the second half of “A Certain Magical Index”.  And I like the fact that even after the Mikoto Misaka and Accelerator arc, they continue to feature the characters in the second half.

I am aware that the series has a significant following in Japan. With its light novel series that are so popular, the series has spawned manga series, video games, drama CD’s. In fact, the popularity of Mikoto Misaka alone has led to her having her own manga and anime series and she was voted the #1 female light novel character for 2010 and 2011, while Toma Kamijo was ranked the #1 male light novel character in 2011 according to “Kono Light Novel ga Soi!”.

Sure, there have been many Japanese anime series that feature an individual with a strong sense of justice and wants to protect everyone from harm, but what makes this series so different from other anime series with a similar theme is its storyline and also its separation of Espers and Magicians but also throwing in this twist of Grimoires, books that are about powerful magic that is installed on one girl name Index, that our protagonist is trying to protect.

Also, with its action and dramatic sequences, it does have elements of a harem anime series but the way things are, it’s much different. The story is complex, deep and does a wonderful job of trying to incorporate its characters and be a story-driven series rather than all action (or fan service), which we tend to see a lot of. So, I enjoy the fact that “A Certain Magical Index” tries to break down the banality by emphasizing story and integrating its characters very nicely.

With the series now complete, I felt the overall series was good.  It’s not super deep and the second half tends to get more action-oriented without it being too dominated by the action, which was good.  But for the most part, “A Certain Magical Index” was a very good series overall.

As for the DVD, the animation and art background by J.C. Staff is very well done. It does surprise me that there is no Blu-ray release of this series but for the most part, the series is well-acted on both English and in Japanese with the English getting a better treatment with its 5.1 soundtrack over its Japanese 2.0 counterpart. But fans should be pleased with the animation, art and voice acting of “A Certain Magical Index”. Also, you get two audio commentaries included in part one.

Is there anything negative about the series, really there isn’t anything that I can think of that is negative. Unless you were hoping that the complete series was released instead of it being released in two DVD sets. But other than that, “A Certain Magical Index” turned out to be a pretty awesome anime series and I look forward to seeing the spinoff anime series “A Certain Scientific Railgun” which follows the adventures of Mikoto Misaka.

Overall, “A Certain Magical Index” is an entertaining, complex, fun and exciting anime series from beginning to end and a series that I recommend!

A Certain Magical Index: Season One, Part One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

January 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“A Certain Magical Index” is an exciting, smart and entertaining anime series that will instantly captivate you!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: A Certain Magical Index: Season One, Part One

DURATION: Episodes 1-12

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: December 18, 2012

Originally created by Kazuma Kamachi

Original Character Designs by Kiyotaka Haimura

Directed by Hiroshi Nishikiori

Series Composition by Masanao Akahoshi

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by I’ve, Maiko Iuchi

Character Design by Yuichi Tanaka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda, Yoshinori Hirose

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Atsushi Abe/Micah Solusod as Toma Kamijo

Yuka Iguchi/Monica Rial as Index

Akeno Watanabe/Stephanie Young as Sherry Cromwell

Anri Katsu/Newton Pittman as Motoharu Tsuchimikado

Kana Asumi/Alexis Tipton as Hyouka Kazakiri

Kimiko Koyama/Jad Saxton as Komoe Tsukuyomi

Kishô Taniyama/Robert McCollum as Stiyl Magnus

Mamiko Noto/Lindsay Seidel as Aisa Himegami

Misato Fukuen/Lara Woodhull as Maika Tsuchimikado

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Austin Tindle as Accelerator

Nozomi Sasaki as Misaka’s Younger Sister

Rina Hidaka/Brittney Karbowski as Last Order

Rina Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mikoto Misaka

Satomi Arai/Allison Viktorin as Kuroko Shirai

Shizuka Itou as Kaori Kanzaki

Tomokazu Sugita/Jason Liebrecht as Aureolus Izzard

Yuka Terasaki/Kate Oxley as Misha=Kruschschev

Yuko Kaida/Martha Harms as Aiho Yomikawa

Kamijo is a student in Academy City, where people use science to develop supernatural abilities. The guy’s got a lot of heart – luckily for a young nun named Index. She’s on the run from a sorcery society that covets the astonishing 103,000 volumes of magical knowledge stored in her memory. When Index stumbles into Kamijo’s life, she find a faithful friend and protector, and while Kamijo’s easily the weakest kid in Academy City, he’s got something else going for him: the Imagine Breaker, an unexplainable power stored in his right hand that negates the powers of others. With scientists and sorcerers attacking from all sides, the Imagine Breaker will definitely come in handy – but it’s Kamijo’s loyalty to Index that will be his greatest weapon in the fight to keep her safe.

In 2004, writer Kazuma Kamachi and illustrator Kiyotaka Haimura began working on the light novel series “Toaru Majutsu no Index” (A Certain Magical Index).

The novel would then receive a manga adaptation in 2007 which was published on “Monthly Shonen Gangan” and a year later, receiving an 24-episode anime adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff, followed by a second season airing in 2010-2011.

The series would go on to have a spinoff manga series titled “A Certain Scientific Railgun” which would be published in 2007 and a release in the US in 2011. An OVA series was released in 2010 and a second season is set to air this year.

The series is directed by Hiroshi Nishikiori (“Angelic Layer”, “Gad Guard”, “Ghost Slayers Ayashi”), screenplay written by Masano Akahoshi (“Duel Masters”, “Freezing”, “Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians”, “Zone of Enders”), character design by Yuichi Tanaka (“Last Exile”, “NieA 7”, “Desert Punk”) and art direction by Tomonori Kuroda (“Familiar of Zero”, “Guin Saga”, “Hayate the Combat Butler”, “Sola”) and Yoshinori Hirose (“Familiar of Zero”, “Ikki Tousen”, “Shakugan no Shana”, “Sola”).

With the popularity of the series, FUNimation has licensed the first seasons of “A Certain Magical Index” and “A Certain Scientific Railgun” and the first series was released in two parts on DVD in December 2012.

“A Certain Magical Index” takes place in an alternate version of Tokyo where students of Academy City (an advanced academic city) are scientifically advanced and use magic.  But there is one student who is a failure in his esper studies but he does have a strong pride when it comes to justice, teenager Toma Kamijo.

But despite being at the lowest psychic rank possible (level 0) at Academy City, he has an undetectable power, something he doesn’t know too much about called the “Imagine Breaker”.  His right hand has the power to negate all magic, psychic or divine powers. Unfortunately, it also negates all his good luck.

One day, he ends up getting into a duel against a powerful level 5 psychic named Mikoto Misaka.  Mikoto can control and generate electricity and when the two fight, a blackout ensues.  Toma ends up waking up to find a young nun from the Church of England hanging off his balcony.  He finds out her name is Index and that she is being chased down by magicians because she has 103,000 grimoires.

With his sense of justice, Toma wants to protect Index from harm and both become friends.  Index also explains to Toma about his power of the “Imagine Breaker” on his right hand and how his power is very special.

One day after returning home, he finds Index bleeding and suffering and standing there is sorcerer Stiyl Magnus.  Stiyl explains that his partner Kaori unintentionally hurt Index and his mission was to protect her as she has the power of photographic memory.   Not liking how Stiyl talks about Index, Toma is intent on protecting her and a battle ensues.  To Stiyl’s shock, Toma is able to nullify his spells.  Stiyl then sends his powerful fire creature Innocentius on Toma, but once again, Toma negates it and Toma ends up beating him.

Needing help to heal Index, he goes to the only person he knows that he can help her, his teacher Komoe Tsukuyomi (who has an appearance of a child but is actually an adult).  Komoe has no esper abilities but she can assist with magic spells and the ability to heal Index.  Through Index, Toma learns that she belongs to the organization Necessarius and that Index-Librorum-Prohibitorum was implanted into Index’s mind. She is a living library to the church and because the things that she reads are very powerful and she has read the original books that can be used against Necessarius.

Toma meanwhile encounters the other sorcerer from Necessarius.  Kaori demands Toma to turn over Index, but he refuses.  She demonstrates her power to him and that she can easily slay him but his sense of justice comes out and he tells her that all he wants to do is protect her.  Kaori reveals that she and Index are actually good friends and that when Index got hurt, it wasn’t suppose to happen as her magical garb was to protect her (but Toma’s magic negated the magic on her clothing).

She then reveals to Toma that the entire Index-Librorum-Prohibitorum takes up 85% of Index’s memory and that the remaining 15% needs to be erased eacy year to save Index from straining her mind from unnecessary memories.  And that she has three days left until her limit is reached.  So, she needs to take Index back.  Toma refuses and asks Kaori how they can call themselves her good friends when they never consider Index’s feelings and asks Kaori why she wouldn’t try to protect him.

While Stiyl and Kaori go to retrieve Index, Kome reveals to both of them that humans can never suffer or die from being overloaded with information and that the church regularly erased Index’s memory to ensure her loyalty to them.

Believing Kome, the two realize they have been misled.  But knowing the complexities of what is happening, a deal is struck and Stiyl working with Aleister Crowley, the ruler of Academic City asks for Aleister to lend Toma to him for an assignment to rescue “Deep Blood”, those who are capable of killing vampires,  from a magician in Academy City.

And so the first season of “A Certain Magical Index” now features Toma trying to protect Index from harm but also taking part in a mission that brings Toma close to the person he battled in episode 1, Mikoto Misaka.  Or is it really her?

The main characters of “A Certain Magical Index” are:

  • Toma Kamijo – The main protagonist. A teenager who has a high sense of justice and despite having a psychic rank of zero, has a mysterious power of the Imagine Breaker which nullifies all magic, psychic or divine powers and unfortunately, his good luck.  But because of his sense of justice, each person he comes in contact with develop respect or love towards Toma because of his willingness to protect them.
  • Index – A young nun from Necessarius, a branch of the Church of England.  She is literally possesses a photographic memory in which the 103,000 magical texts of Index-Librorum-Prohibitorum is implanted on her.  These texts known as the Grimoires take up 85% of her mind and the 0ther 15% is used for daily activities.  Because of this, her life span to live normally is less than a year as they tend to erase her memory when it comes to its limit.
  • Mikoto Misaka – A powerful Electromaster who is known as “The Railgun”.  She attends Tokiwadai Middle School, a school for the wealthy and one of the elite schools of Academy City.  She also has a strong sense of morals and hates injustice.
  • Accelerator – The most powerful esper in Academy City and an antagonist of the series.  He has joined an experiment to become the first Level 6 psychic, but he must kill 128 skilled level 5 psychics or 20,000 skilled Level 3 psychics.
  • Komoe Tsukuyomi – A teacher at Academy City who has the appearance of a child.  She is one of the seven greatest mysteries of Academy City who doesn’t have any esper powers but she is capable of assisting in magic spells and healing.
  • Stiyl Magnus – A sorcerer from Necessarius and also a heavy smoker.  He specializes in fire power and has a short temper.  He is a diplomat to Academy City on behalf of the Angelic Church and is sent on missions which involve Toma and Index.
  • Kaori Kanzaki– A sorceress from Necessarius who wields a nodachi known as the “Seven Heaven Seven Swords”.  She looks at Index as a sister but she became cold and silent when her friend began not to to trust her.  But she sees Toma’s strong sense of justice and wants him to protect her.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

I have to admit that I was surprised that “A Certain Magical Index” was not released on Blu-ray.  But J.C. staff did a fine job with the animation and also the detail of the art backgrounds were very well done!  Characters and backgrounds are well-detailed, well-shaded and look better than a lot of TV series.  So, I was impressed.

Audio is presented in English 5.1 surround and Japanese stereo.  The English soundtrack has better dynamic range as one would expect form its 5.1 soundtrack compared to the front-channel driven Japanese stereo track.  Voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done!  Micah Solusod, Monica Rial, Brittney Karbowski and others do a fantastic job and I have to say this series is one of Micah’s best voice work.   On the Japanese end, Atsushi Abe, Yuka Iguchi and Rina Satou are also wonderful!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Certain Magical Index: Season One, Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 3 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Monica Rial (Index), Jade Saxton (Komoe) and Micah Solusod (Toma)
  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (voice director), Rob McCollum (Stiyl), Cole Brown (Heaven Chancellor, Dr. Frog).
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs – Textless version of “PSI-Missing” and “Rimless ~Fuchinashi no Sekai~”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

“A Certain Magical Index” is an exciting, smart and entertaining anime series that will instantly captivate you!

I am aware that the series has a significant following in Japan.  With its light novel series that are so popular, the series has spawned manga series, video games, drama CD’s.  In fact, the popularity of Mikoto Misaka alone has led to her having her own manga and anime series and she was voted the #1 female light novel character for 2010 and 2011, while Toma Kamijo was ranked the #1 male light novel character in 2011 according to “Kono Light Novel ga Soi!”.

Sure, there have been many Japanese anime series that feature an individual with a strong sense of justice and wants to protect everyone from harm, but what makes this series so different from other anime series with a similar theme is its storyline and also its separation of Espers and Magicians but also throwing in this twist of Grimoires, books that are about powerful magic that is installed on one girl name Index, that our protagonist is trying to protect.

Also, with its action and dramatic sequences, it does have elements of a harem anime series but the way things are, it’s much different.  The story is complex, deep and does a wonderful job of trying to incorporate its characters and be a story-driven series rather than all action (or fan service), which we tend to see a lot of.  So, I enjoy the fact that “A Certain Magical Index” tries to break down the banality by emphasizing story and integrating its characters very nicely.

As for the DVD, the animation and art background by J.C. Staff is very well done.  It does surprise me that there is no Blu-ray release of this series but for the most part, the series is well-acted on both English and in Japanese with the English getting a better treatment with its 5.1 soundtrack over its Japanese 2.0 counterpart.  But fans should be pleased with the animation, art and voice acting of “A Certain Magical Index”.  Also, you get two audio commentaries included in part one.

Is there anything negative about the series, really there isn’t anything that I can think of that is negative.  Unless you were hoping that the complete series was released instead of it being released in two DVD sets.  The first half of the series is very good and I look forward in seeing how things end up in the second half of the series.

Overall, “A Certain Magical Index: Season One, Part One” is an entertaining, complex, fun and exciting anime series that I recommend!

Dream Eater Merry: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

March 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Any anime fan looking for a kick ass, action-packed series will definitely want to check out “Dream Eater Merry: Complete Collection”.    This is one addictive series that left me craving for more!  Definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © Yoshitaka/Houbunsha/”Dream Eater Merry” Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Dream Eater Merry: Complete Collection

DURATION: Episode 13 (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen, English and Japanese 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV PG V

Release Date: March 27, 2012

Originally created by Yoshitaka Ushiki

Directed by Shigeyasu Yamauchi

Series Composition: Hideki Shirane

Music by Keiichi Oku

Character Design: Masahiro Fujii

Art  Director: Kenji Matsumoto, Yuki Yukie

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Hilary Haag as Merry Nightmare

Nobuhiko Okamot/Blake Shepard as Yumeji Fujiwara

Ai Kayano/Brittney Karbowski as Isana Tachibana

Aya Endo/Shannon Emerick as Engi Three-Piece

Jouji Nakata/Chris Ayres as John Doe

Kana Ueda/Melissa Davis as Chizuru Kawanami

Keiji Fujiwara/Andrew Love as Tachibana no Oyassan (Old Man Tachibana)

Kenichi Suzumura/Vic Mignona as Ryōta Iijima

Mariya Ise/Shelley Calene-Black as Saki Kirishima

Natsumi Takamori/Emily Neves as Mei Hoshino

Sayuri Yahagi/Monica Rial as Mistilteinn

Shinji Kawada/Rob Mungle as Guricho

Shinnosuke Tachibana/Chris Patton as Takateru Akiyanagi

Takaya Kuroda/Jay Hickman as Lestion (Leon)

Tomoko Akiya/Luci Christian as Yui Kōnagi

Sometimes daydreaming can get you into trouble, but what do you do when it’s other people’s dreams that you have to watch out for? Yumeji Fujiwara has the unique ability to predict what kind of dreams other people will have, but lately, his own dreams have taken a bizarre turn in which he’s being pursued by armies of cats. Stranger yet, Yumeji learns that the leader of the dream cats needs his body to access the Real World.

Finally, the strange becomes downright weird when a beautiful girl suddenly drops on top of him and announces that she’s a Dream Demon looking for a way back to the Dream World! The fabric that separates reality and fantasy is torn to shreds, and Yumeji has a lot of sleepless nights ahead of him as he has to deal with both the dream stalking and a dream walking!

Two people from different worlds join forces in taking down dream demons.  But what happens when a few of the most powerful are on Earth, looking to unleash their havoc on innocent students?

This is the premise of “Dream Eater Merry”,  a 13-episode action/fantasy TV series based on the popular manga by Ushiki Yoshitaka.

Published in the magazine “Manga Time Kirara Forward” since 2008, the manga series is still ongoing in Japan.  The anime series is directed by Shigeyasu Yamauchi (“Crying Freeman”, “Dragon Ball Z” and “Saint Seiya” films, “Xenosaga: The Animation”), series composition by Hideki Sirane (Aria the Scarlet Ammo”, “Girl’s High”, “Phantom ~Requiem for Phantom~”), music by Keiichi Oku (“Ojamajo Doremi”, “Peacemaker”, “Marmalade Boy”), character design by Masahiro Fujii (“Familizer of Zero”, “Zero no Tsukaima”) and art background by Kenji Matsumoto (“Stellvia”, “Taro the Dragon Boy”, “Air”, “Dragon Ball Z”).

“Dream Eater Merry” revolves around two people.  The first is Merry Nightmare, a dream demon fro the dreamworld who somehow was able to come out of it and live in Earth’s reality ten years ago.  No memory of what happened, Merry has been searching and defeating Dream Demons and sending them back home to the Dreamworld, in hopes that she will return back with them.

The other person is Yumeji Fujiwara, a high school student who has a special ability, by making his fingers form a circle and looking through them, he can see the aura of people and easily predict the dreams they are about to have. But for some reason, Yumeji is having these unusual nightmares of cats trying to capture him.

Meanwhile, Yumeji tries to live a normal life.  He hangs out with his childhood friend Isana, a shy girl who wants to become an artist and she absolutely adores Yumeji for helping her home after injuring herself at the playground when the two were young kids.  He hangs out with his friends from the writing club, Mei Hoshino (the leader of the writing club), Takateru Akiyanagi (the haiku writer) amd Saki Kirishima (who likes Takateru).

Yumeji’s dreams are starting to become a bit more hostile and we are introduced to leader of the cats named John Doe, who has an interest in Yumeji, for some reason.  One day, Merry Nightmare accidentally falls on top of him and loses her hat.  As she goes on to look for it, the world of reality suddenly changes to dreamtime and John Doe and his army of cats continue to chase Yumeji and immediately, Merry has entered the dream (to find her hat) and ends up fighting John Doe and saving Yumeji.

Eventually, Yumeji learns from Merry that she is trying to get back home and feels that if she sends these dream demons back, it would give her the chance to go back home to the Dream World but the problem is, she has been on Earth for ten years and finding one is not easy.  Yumeji feels he owes Merry for saving his life, so he offers to use his skill of detecting unusual auras including dream demons and promising Merry that he will do all he can to help her get back home.

For now,  Yumeji helps Merry by getting her a place to stay and also a part-time job, and while on Earth, Merry gets to learn about humans, human interactions and lifestyle but also emotion.

Meanwhile, for certain individuals that are communicating with dream demons, someone out there is killing their demon partners and erasing the dreams of students and making them live like walking zombies.

So now  Yumeji and Merry take on various dream demons, but also come across others who have different agendas and may affect Merry’s goal of going back home to the Dream World.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Dream Eater Merry” is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and English/Japanese 2.0.  It’s important to note that if you want the best PQ and AQ possible, you will definitely want to go for the Blu-ray version, which will be released simultaneously on the same day of this DVD.

“Dream Eater Merry” is one of those series that is just beautiful to look at.  Featuring artistic art backgrounds that are beautifully painted and variety of colors that showcase warmth and darkness, the characters are well-shaded, while the art backgrounds are well-detailed and just breathtaking to look at.

I was able to test both voice acting during my viewing of the entire series and both voice acting in Japanese and English are very well-done.  The Japanese version definitely captures the more emotional side of the series but for the most part, anime fans, whether they prefer Japanese or English, should be satisfied by the overall quality of the voice acting.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dream Eater Merry: Complete Collection” features the Clean Opening and Closing Animation themes and Sentai Filmworks trailers.

During my viewing of “Dream Eater Merry”, one of the things that went on my head while watching the first episode was if this is going to be another “Kurokami” type series.  Two people from different worlds, it’s a banality you often see in anime series.

Fortunately, “Dream Eater Merry” features a captivating, action-packed storyline that has cool characters, cool artwork but most of all, it’s a fun series that unfortunately ends too quickly!

After watching “Dream Eater Merry”, I was hoping for more episodes.  This is an awesome anime series and one aspect that I love about it is the possibilities and potential because of the many “dream demons” that exist.  And of course, you have weak and strong dream demons, but then you have these few demons who are just on their own level as they are just too powerful and each have their own wicked, dark or crazy style.

And then you have the two protagonists, Merry and Yumeji.  The series features many characters but the series manages to weave character development through each episode and every characters ends up being likeable.  The problem is, some have big dreams and big dreams are what certain evil dream demons are after.  Dreams they can squash and leave people almost like mindless zombies.  So, when you see Merry and Yumeji, they don’t look like the powerhouse duo…but considering that Yumeji has had the special ability to see people’s dreams but also enter in a dream (day or night, whenever he wants) is quite intriguing.

Also, the character of Merry doesn’t look all too powerful.  She looks like a young teenage girl, but because she has amnesia and she has defied logic by being present in the real world (when dream demons can only be in dreams), needless to say, there is a lot that needs to be explored about her character and her abilities.

But overall, this first series for “Dream Eater Merry” was fantastic!  And as mentioned, too short.  Even in the final episode right after the big battle, you can tell that this series was one that could have probably needed another 11-13 episodes as there are quite a bit of questions of what will happen to various characters after this first major battle.  Needless to say, while the writers did all they can to wrap things up in the final minutes of the final episode, you are just left wanting more of “Dream Eater Merry”.

Considering that the manga series is ongoing, hopefully J.C. Staff is considering a second season.  But for now, any anime fan looking for a kick ass, action-packed series will definitely want to check out “Dream Eater Merry: Complete Collection”.  This is one addictive series that left me craving for more!  Definitely recommended!

Okami-san and Her Seven Companions: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A lot of fun, original and outright addictive!  “Okami-san and Her Seven Companions” has become one of my favorite anime series on Blu-ray for 2012.  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Okami-san and Her Seven Companions: The Complete Series

DURATION: 12 Episodes (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: April 3, 2012

Originally created by Masashi Okita

Directed by Yoshiaki Iwasaki

Series Composition by Michiko Itou

Music by Megumi Oohashi

Original Character Design: Haruko Iizuka

Art Director: Teruhiko Niida

Cheif Animation Director: Haruko Iizuka

Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa

Director of Photography: Tomokazu Nakanish

Anime Production: J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Miyu Irino/Joel McDonald as Ryōshi Morino

Shizuka Itou/Brina Palencia as Ryōko Ōkami

Kanae Itō/Monica Rial as Ringo Akai

Aki Toyosaki/Caitlin Glass as Otohime Ryūgū

Ayako Kawasumi/Colleen Clinkebeard as Otsuu Tsurugaya

Hirofumi Nojima/Micah Solusod as Liszt Kiriki

Junichi Suwabe/Ian Sinclair as Shirō Hitsujikai

Kimiko Koyama/Lindsay Seidel as Majolica le Fay

Rie Kugimiya/Jad Saxton as Mimi Usami

Satomi Arai/Luci Christian as Narrator

Shintarō Asanuma/Todd Haberkorn as Tarō Urashima

Yui Horie/Terri Doty as Alice Kiriki

Yuko Kaida/Stephanie Young as Momoko Kibitsu

Ryoko Okami, the “wolf,” and her BFF Ringo, also known as Little Red Riding Hood, are members of Otogi Bank – a high school club that helps classmates out of grim situations. One day, a meek young man proclaims his love to Ryoko, who does nothing but bite him in return. “You’re much too weak for me,” she huffs. So the boy joins Otogi Bank to prove he has the stuff to protect his beloved – even if it means taking a blow to the head with a lead pipe. He’s no Prince Charming, but will Ryoko allow herself to have her own happily ever after?

Pleasantly original and outright addictive!  “Okami-san and Her Seven Companions” has become one of my favorite anime series on Blu-ray for 2012.  Highly recommended!

“Okami-San and her Seven Companions” is the title of the anime series based on the Japanese light novels “Okami-san” by Masashi Okita (feat. illustrations by Unaji).  Released in 2006 and published by ASCII Media Works, the sereis received a TV series anime adaptation in 2010 courtesy of J.C. Staff.

The anime series was directed by Yoshiaki Iwasaki (“Best Student Council”, “Hayate the Combat Butler!!”, “Love Hina”), a screenplay by Michiko Itou (“Queen’s Blade 2: The Evil Eye”, “Bodacious Space Pirates”), music by Megumi Oohashi (“Blue Dragon”, “Transformers: Cybertron”, “Uta~Kata”), character designs by Haruko Iizuka (“Karin”, “Love Hina”, “Black Butler”) and art direction by Teruhiko Niida (“Doki Doki School Hours”, “Hayate the Combat Butler”, “Toaru Kagaku no Railgun”).

And now the 12-episode anime series will be released in the U.S. as a complete series on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment in April 2012.

“Okami-san and Her Seven Companions” is a series that revolves primarily around two characters, Ryo Okami and Ryoshi Morino.  Both are high school students at Otogi High School and a member of the trading club in high school known as the “Otogi High School Bank”.

The club which begins with seven people are known for taking on projects in which students request for their help and hire the club, after completion, the student is not indebted by money but must pay the favor back when the club requests for it.

Ryoko Okami is the fierce and violent fighter, but the truth is that it’s all a facade.  Deep inside, Ryoko is scared but due to something bad that happened to her earlier as a teenager, it changed her life forever and she went from innocent and happy to not so happy and always willing to fight kind of person.  She carries two Neko Neko Knuckles made by club member Majolica that function as boxing gloves and a stun gun.  Her best friend and roommate is Ringo Akai.

The other character Ryoshi Morino is Ryoko’s secret admirer.  He is from the country and has always admired Ryoko from a distance. Unfortunately, Ryoshi is very shy and he has a phobia of people staring at him.   But Ryoshi has declared his love for Ryoko and promised to be by her side no matter what.  So, Ringo brings Ryoshi to the members of Otogi High School Bank to become a new member and prove his love to Ryoko and prove he can be strong enough to be his girlfriend.

The two are joined by Otogi Bank Club members Ringo Akai (petite and short and dresses like red riding hood), Liszt Kiriki (the president of Otogi bank who is great at research and cross dressing), Alice Kiriki (Liszt’s cousin and club secretary, equally good at obtaining research), Otsu Tsurugaya (the maid), Taro Urashima (the playboy), Otohime Ryugu (the girl that has a crush on Taro) and Majolica le Fay (the mad scientist).

The series focuses on the Otogi Bank Club members taking on various missions but we find out that a lot of the trouble is caused by a rival school, Onigashima High School which is led by their student council president Shiro Hitsujikai.  And Shiro is tied to Okami through an incident that changed her life forever.

And throughout each episode and through different missions, we see how the shy Ryoshi Morino has a lot of positive features within him and how he eventually gains the respect of the Otogi Bank club members but also starting to capture the heart of the one girl he loves the most, Ryoko Okami.  But because Okami is not good with her emotions and because of her past, can she ever fall in love with anyone ever again?

VIDEO:

“Okami-san and Her Seven Companions: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1) and is what one would expect from a TV anime series in terms of softness.  The series also features a colorful palette as well as vibrant and detailed art backgrounds.  This is a series that focuses on a lot of closeups but also action sequences.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifact issues with this anime series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Okami-san and Her Seven Companions: The Complete Series” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  I watched the series in both Japanese and English and felt that there was good use of surround through the English 5.1 soundtrack but in terms of voice acting, both are well done. But although there is quite a bit of action in this series, for the most part, a lot of the series is focused around dialogue.  Dialogue is crystal clear and heard no problems on both soundtracks whatsoever.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Okami-san and Her Seven Companions: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring Colleen Clinkenbeard (director) and Chuck Huber (writer) for the English dub.
  • Episode 6 Commentary – Featuring voice actresses Brina Polencia (Ryoko) and Monica Rial (Ringo).
  • Tokyo International Anime Fair Promotional Video  – (2:47) Specialized TIAF promo for “Okami-san and Her Seven Companions”.
  • Promotional Video – (1:44) Promotional video for “”Okami-san and Her Seven Companions”.
  • Original TV Commercials – (1:08) The Japanese commercials for “Okami-san and Her Seven Companions”.
  • U.S. Trailer – (:59) FUNimation Entertainment theatrical trailer.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Okami-san and Her Seven Companions: The Complete Series” comes with a DVD version of the series.

I have to admit that when I first began watching “Okami-san and Her Seven Companions”, I was thinking that this anime series was going to be the usual banal anime series about a club of friends kicking the butt of other rival high schools, etc.  But it turns out I was wrong.  In fact, “Okami-san and Her Seven Companions” features an original storyline that you just don’t find in other anime series and I found myself quite addicted to this anime series to the point that I couldn’t stop watching.  I wanted more when it was all done!

You can’t help but want to support the underdog Ryoshi and hoping he can capture the heart of Ryoko Okami!  And the anime series is so captivating because you have a group of characters that are just so odd, crazy and unusual but for this anime series, it somehow works in the overall efficacy of the series.

Yes, you get action, you get drama, you get a lot of comedy and you get a little fan service but the series is focuses on the dramatic portion of the series between Ryoshi and Ryoko but also the action/comedy segments as the group take on various missions to help these individuals with their requests.  But what happens when a rival school of delinquents tries to get involved with Otogi Bank’s business.

So, while the series tends to focus on both Ryoko and Ryoshi, because of the involvement of the other bank members, you get to learn about each of them as there is a storyline-centric episode involving each or all of them.

Also, unlike other anime series, “Okami-san and Her Seven Companions” features an interesting type of narration that usually explains a scene, a character or just pokes fun of the characters in general.  It was rather interesting, especially to see how things differ between the Japanese and English dub.

If there was one thing about “Okami-san and Her Seven Companions” that I was not expecting was how deep things got near the second half of the series as it is revealed to Ryoshi of what happened to Ryoko and why she changed long ago from this happy student to this colder, violent person (which both Ringo and Ryoshi can tell its a facade).

While the first half of the series can be seen as fun and more character development building episodes, the last four episodes alone are quite deep and action-packed.  But most of all, the series focuses on its characters and builds a solid storyline around them.  Too often these days, we see beautiful looking animation and backgrounds but the storyline is so-so.

“Okami-san and Her Seven Companions” was quite a surprise and was much better than I expected.  In fact, I would go as far to say that the series is possibly one of the best anime series on Blu-ray in 2012 that I have seen so far!

While picture quality is what is expected from a TV series, the overall anime series does look good and the voice acting is also well-done in Japan and English.  You also get two audio commentary tracks for the English dub and also promotional videos and original commercials in Japanese (with English subtitles).

Overall, If you are looking for an anime series that has it all…drama, action, cool characters, cool animation and a captivating and entertaining storyline, you definitely want to give “Okami-san and Her Seven Companions” a try!  Especially for those who don’t want a long series, this is only 12-episodes long, so it’ll be easy to follow!

Definitely recommended!

KimiKiss – pure rouge Collection 1 (A J!-Ent Anime DVD Review)

October 7, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“A cute and funny love comedy. “KimiKiss – pure rouge Collection 1 will appeal to a variety of viewers.”

Image courtesy of © Enterbrain, J.C. STAFF, “KimiKiss” Committee. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: KimiKiss – pure rouge Collection 1

DURATION: 325 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 WIDESCREEN, JAPANESE 2.0 STEREO

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 5th, 2010

Original Work by Enterbrain

Directed by Kenichi Kasai

Music by Hikaru Nanase, Masaru Yokoyama, Noriyuki Iwadare

Art Direction by Shinichiro Kobayashi

Character Design by Kazunori Iwakura

Produced by J.C. STAFF, “KimiKiss” Committee.

Featuring the following voice talent:

Satoshi Hino as Kouichi Sanada

Takahiro Mizushima as Kazuki Aihara

Haruna Ikezawa as Mao Mizusawa

Rie Tanaka as Eriko Futami

Ami Koshimizu as Yuumi Hoshino

Ryou Hirohashi as Asuka Sakino

Takahiro Sakurai as Eiji Kai

Sakura Nogawa as Nana Aihara

Jun Fukuyama as Akira Hiiragi

Mamiko Noto as Mitsuki Sijyo

Kaori Mizuhashi as Narumi Satonaka

Mai Nakahara as Megumi Kuryu

Ayako Kawasumi as Tomoko Kawada

Kouichi always thought of Mao as his little sister, but when he wakes up from a dream and she walks into his house, he doesn’t even recognize her. It’s probably because after living in France for several years, Mao is definitely not anyone’s little sister anymore!

To further complicate things, Kouichi’s mom has invited Mao to stay at their house while she attends the same high school as Kouichi and their mutual friend Kazuki. But given that Kouichi’s been trying to build a relationship with Yuumi, the revelation that he’s now sharing accommodations with a non-related girl is definitely going to cause some emotional waves – or maybe a tsunami by the time Kazuki’s sister Nana, her best friend Narumi, and all the other kids at school get overly involved.

“KimiKiss – pure rouge Collection 1” is based off the dating simulation game by the same name and this collection has the first 13 episodes of the series. The major difference between the anime and the game would be that a set male protagonist exists (in the game, there is a male protagonist but the player can change the name of the character to his own name and the game changes depending on the player’s actions).

The anime actually has two male protagonists: Kouichi Sanada and Kazuki Aihara (The default protagonist’s name in the game happens to be Kouichi Aihara). As to be expected from an anime based on a dating sim for guys, there are a lot of girls in the series… lots (6 girls actually… so 3 for each? I kid, I kid…) Mao Mizusawa is one of those girls, and a childhood friend of Kouichi and Kazuki who went away to Paris a couple of years ago and just came back to Japan to spend her last year in high school in Japan instead of Paris. So what will this year hold for Kouichi, Kazuki, and Mao’s love lives? Watch and find out.

“KimiKiss – pure rouge” focuses on the following main characters:

Kouichi Sanada – Kouichi is one of the two male protagonists in this series. He’s pretty much a normal high school student who grew up with Kazuki and Mao. Mao goes away to Paris two years ago and shows up at his house and at first he doesn’t recognize her, but as soon as he does, he finds out that she’s going to be living at his house and going to his school while her parents are still in Paris. He sort of dreams of becoming a novelist. He has feelings for a girl named Yuumi Hoshino but has trouble talking to her at first. With the help of Mao, he’s able to finally talk to her and starts building a relationship with her, but he may also have feelings for someone else…

Mao Mizusawa – Mao is somewhat the female protagonist of the series. She is a childhood friend of Kouichi and Kazuki and is a year older than the two. Two years ago, she moved away to Paris and just came back to Japan to complete her last year of high school there. She shows up at Kouichi’s house, but he doesn’t even recognize her at first and she randomly just barges in like it’s her house. He finally realizes who she is and she reveals that she is staying there while she finishes her last year of high school since her parents are still in Paris. Her first few days at school are a little rough considering she’s suffering from jet lag and forces Kouichi to stay up and play video games with her. She also meets a guy named Eiji Kai in her class who is first cold to her but soon those feelings change. However, there might be someone else she may have feelings for as well…

Kazuki Aihara – Kazuki is a friend of Kouichi and Mao and the older brother of Nana. He loves playing soccer and he is determined to find a girlfriend within the school year. By chance, he runs into Eriko Futami and he quickly develops some feelings for her… but he’s uncertain how she feels about him.

Akira Hiiragi – Akira is a friend of Kouichi and Kazuki and forces them to be in his movie research club in which they are the only three members… For some reason, he has data on all of the girls who go to their school…

Nana Aihara – Nana is the younger sister of Kazuki who starts to also go to their school this year. She loves her green frog accessory named Iwao that she keeps on her bag. Her best friend is Narumi, who she meets at school who also has an obssession with frogs.

Yuumi Hoshino – Yuumi is Kouichi and Kazuki’s classmate and is very quiet and very kind. She works in the school library. She has feelings towards Kouichi but she has trouble opening up to people, but soon it’s apparent that the feelings may be mutual between her and Kouichi.

Eriko Futami – Eriko is an extremely introverted girl who has an IQ of 190. She is rather cold to others and usually just loiters on the roof or the science lab. She performs an “experiment” with Kazuki when he stumbles into the lab one day and she kisses him, leaving him confused. She says the experiment failed, but she eventually opens up to others including Kazuki. There seems to be something wrong with her taste buds.

Asuka Sakino – Asuka is an energetic girl in the soccer club along with Kazuki. Over time, she begins having feelings for Kazuki.

Mitsuki Sijyo – Mitsuki is a very rich girl who plays piano and excels in various other skills. Her life may seem privileged to other people, but in reality it may not be as great as it seems…

Narumi Satonaka – Narumi is Nana’s classmate and they bond as soon as they meet because they both love frogs: she has a pink frog accessory named Julietta and apparently Julietta is Iwao’s girlfriend. She loves udon and is an expert in making it (She also carries Julietta around in a udon strainer).

Eiji Kai – Eiji Kai is Mao’s classmate and at first, he is quite and cold toward Mao. He plays the saxophone and at first he doesn’t want to get along with Mao but he gradually opens up to her…

Megumi Kuryu – Megumi is in the same class as Kouichi and Kazuki and the self-appointed prefect and member of the disciplinary group.

Tomoko Kawada – Tomoko is a teacher at their school and Mao’s homeroom teacher.

“KimiKiss – pure rouge Collection 1” features a total of 13 episodes on two DVDs. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • #1- meet again – Mao comes back from France and back into the lives of Kouichi and Kazuki.
  • #2- cool beauty – Kazuki confronts Eriko about their kiss and what it meant.
  • #3- book mark – The group goes to karaoke and Mao tries to bring Kouichi and Yuumi closer.
  • #4- step in – Various relationships develop.
  • #5- jump up – Eiji and Mao go on a date and Kazuki and Eriko continue their experiment.
  • #6- each melancholy – The group holds a study session.

DISC 2:

  • #7- dear actress – The group tries to find the main actress for the script Kouichi wrote.
  • #8- close to you – Mao doesn’t know what to after her and Eiji’s last encounter.
  • #9- water girls – The group attends the school’s swimming competition.
  • #10- miss tone – Mao has a weird dream involving Kouichi and Eiji…
  • #11- tear drops – The group goes to Mitsuki’s mansion to try to find shooting locations for their movie.
  • #12- passing rain – Kouichi and Yuumi go on a date.
  • #13- crossroad – Yuumi has a secret.

VIDEO & AUDIO

“KimiKiss – pure rouge Collection 1” is presented in 16:9. The character designs are nice and I think that the art will appeal to various audiences. There aren’t any ridiculously big boobs or excessive fan service in this series. I did notice that all the backgrounds seemed to be drawn/painted in a rough sketch type design… but it doesn’t look cheap, it looks artistic.

They do also incorporate some CG in here and there. Like many other Sentai Filmworks releases, this series only has Japanese for the audio option, so for people looking for English dub, they will be disappointed. However, they got a great cast for this series including a lot of well known names including Rie Tanaka, Jun Fukuyama and Takahiro Sakurai. All of the voices fit the characters well and no one seemed out of place. The opening and ending themes are also cute and catchy.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The only special features available on the discs are Sentai Filmwork Trailers, Clean Opening and Ending Animations, and DVD Credits.

I have to admit that while I’m watching this series, I can’t help but feel that I’m watching a dating sim being played right in front of me (it is a dating sim, duh. I know.) KimiKiss is definitely a series for guys… but at the same time, it’s not… The series is indeed based off of a dating sim, but the story elements are something that would attract a female audience as well.

KimiKiss has a good mix of romance and comedy without being too over the top romantic and doesn’t have an excess amount of fan service. There is obviously some conflict, but it’s not as dramatic as many other shojo series. So… it’s pretty much a good mix.

I believe that it’s because of the comedy and no over-the-topness that makes this series accessible to a much bigger audience. The love expressed in this series so far is more pure than fan service. I know that there’s a bunch of girls in this series, but Mao is pretty much a protagonist as well so that also balances things out. Despite the huge amount of girls and the few guys in the series, it doesn’t have the usual harem anime aspects where everyone is after one person like in “Love Hina” and “Tenchi! Muyo”.

It’s slightly weird because it almost seems that with Kouichi, Kazuki, and Mao put together you have one full main character. Kouichi and Kazuki are indeed split from the original protagonist, but in the anime, Kouichi definitely doesn’t stand out too much, at least in the beginning. Mao is definitely a strong personality in the series and she is probably my favorite. She is straight forward, funny, and has many other

Romances in shojo mangas can get very malicious… this doesn’t really have that aspect which is appealing to me. Any conflict that seems to happen doesn’t happen because someone is trying to hurt someone else… it just happens out of circumstance. No craziness, which is nice.

Obviously, this is not an action series no matter how you look at it, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re not gonna get it. This series is slightly reminiscent to other harem type anime like “Love Hina”, “Tenchi! Muyo”, and “Ai Yori Aoshi” so fans of those series I think would enjoy this one as well. You won’t find much fan service though if that’s what you’re looking for. A series that I think is very similar to this one is a Shonen Jump series called “I”s” so for people who enjoyed that series, I think they’ll enjoy this too.

To sum up everything, this series is funny and cute. It’s based off a dating sim but the anime has a lot of aspects that would attract more girls than guys… but I think guys may enjoy it too considering there’s tons of cute girls in the series. Not to mention the demographic for this is supposed to be shonen/seinen…

If you’re looking for a funny and cute love comedy series, give “KimiKiss – pure rouge Collection 1” a try. You won’t be disappointed.

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