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KanColle Kantai Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is an action anime series inspired by the popular browser-based and PS Vita video game. It’s a series that caught Japan by storm in 2015 and now the anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S.  A great compliment to the video games, if you are intrigued about war at sea and cute anime characters, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is a series I recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2014 KanColle Headquarters. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: KanColle Kantai Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally concept by Kensuke Tanaka

Original Story by Kensuke Tanaka

Directed by Kanzou Kusakawa

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Natsumi Kameoka

Character Design by Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Anime Production: diomedea


Featuring the following voice talent:

Felecia Angelle/Sumire Uesaka as Fubuki

Jeannie Tirado/Yuka Iguchi as Kaga

Tia Ballard/Saki Fujita as Akagi

Alexis Tipton/Nao Toyama as Kongou

Amber Lee Connors/Yuka Otsubo as Ooi

Apphia Yu/Aya Suzuki as Hibiki

Brittney Karbowski/Ayane Sakura as Sendai

Camille Liedtka/Aya Suzuki as Inazuma

Cherami Leigh/Rina Hidaka as Mutsuki

Dawn M. Bennett/Nao Toyama as Hiei

Elizabeth Maxwell as Nagato

Jad Saxton/Ayane Sakura as Naka

Kristi Kang/Nao Toyama as Atago

Lara Woodhull/Aya Suzuki as Ikazuchi

Leah Clark/Yumi Tanabe as Yudachi

Megan Shipman/Ayane Sakura as Shimakaze

Monica Rial/Aya Suzuki as Akatsuki

Morgan Berry as Kitakami

Morgan Garrett/Ayane Sakura as Mutsu

Natalie Hoover/Ayane Sakura as Jintsu

Sarah Wiedenheft/Iori Nomizu as Zuikaku


Fubuki is a Special Type Destroyer who has just been assigned to the Naval District. With a grand total of zero battles under her belt, she’s sure to sink fast under the pressure of expectation. Luckily, she’s grouped with Torpedo Squadron Three, and they’re ready to support their new comrade. Together, they’ll prove they have what it takes to defend the ocean and win it all for humanity.


In Japan, “Kantai Collection” a.k.a. “KanColle” has captivated fans thanks to the concept, the characters and the video game.

Created as a Japanese free-to-play web browser games from Kadokawa Games, in 2015, the game had around 3 million registered players.

The series has been released as a manga series, light novels, tabletop RPG and a PlayStation Vita game.  And to coincide with the game’s release, an anime series was released in Japan in January 2015 courtesy of Diomedea.

And now the 12-episode anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the USA courtesy of Funimation.

For those not familiar with “KanColle”, the series is set when humanity has lost the seas to a monstrous fleet.  To counter this monstrous fleet, humanity has donned human girls known as “fleet girls” who wear weaponized outfits and take on various roles in the spirit of historical naval vessels depending on one’s skill.

The anime series revolves around Fubuki, who arrives at the naval base and was recommended to fight in the Third Torpedo Squadron by the admiral.  But no one is sure why, becuase fubuki is always scared, often clumsy and has never fought in battle in her life.

But when she goes out on her first mission and is rescued by Akagi, Fubuki is inspired and wants to do her best in order to train and fight alongside Akagi one day.

The primary characters of “KanColle Kantai Collection” are:

  • Fubuki – The main protagonist.  Clumsy, not a fighting girl but with a heart of a fighter who is inspired by Akagi and trains hard in hopes to one day fight alongside with her.  Fubuki is assigned to the Third Torpedo Squadron and is a Destroyer.
  • Mutsuki – The first fleet girl that befriends Fubuki and is often cheerful.  She is a member of the Third Torpedo Squadron.
  • Yudachi – A destroyer of the Third Torpedo Squadron who is laid back and often says “poi” all the time.
  • Kisaragi – A destroyer who is assigned to the Fourth Torpedo Squadron and is mature, more than her oldest sister Mutsuki.
  • Yayoi/Mochizuki – Two destroyers.  Yayoi lacks emotion, while Mochizuki is often sleepy.
  • Akagi – An aircraft carrier belong to the First carrier Division. She fires arrows with her bow which turns into aircrafts piloted by fairies.
  • Kaga – An Aircraft carrier of the First Carrier Division who frequently accompanies Akagi.  She does not like Shokaku and Zuikaku of the Fifth Carrier Division and refuses to follow Zuikaku’s orders.
  • Shimakaze – A Destroyer who claims to be the fastest in the Southwest Area Fleet.  Hyperactive personality.
  • Yamato – The most powerful naval vessel and her existence is kept as secret.

VIDEO:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Animation is very good, detailed and vibrant.  A lot went into the mechanical design and does a great job of enhancing one’s appreciation of the game, because of how the characters and battles are portrayed.  A slightly soft anime series that one can expect from a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the video games. Diomedea did a wonderful job with animation and artistic backgrounds.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is presented in Japanese and English 5.1. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear and the voice acting is well-done. Great use of the surround channels for action sequences, may it be explosions or blasts, the lossless soundtrack for this anime series is very good.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Promo Videos
  • Commercial Collection
  • Japanese Warnings
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs

EXTRAS:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the anime series.


Back in 2015, I was in Japan to cover Tokyo’s largest anime event, Anime Japan.  And my first introduction to “KanColle” was at Animate in Akihabara.  And sure enough, returning back to the US, I would often see “KanColle” cosplayers.

While English information was a bit sparse at the time, I would eventually discover “KanColle” when I was back in Japan in 2016 and purchased the PlayStation Vita video game and was captivated by the fact that unlike Japanese video games which often featured girls in tanks battling it out, this time around, you have female characters as part of the Navy.

They are essentially the naval ships – Destroyers, Carriers, Heavy and Light Cruisers, you name it and you travel the seas taking on enemies and building your team and characters.

So, when I found out there was an anime series, I was hoping it would come out in the US and now it’s available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

While the video game focuses on the aspect of war and going into battle, the storyline of these characters are focused on in the “KanColle Kantai Collection” anime series.

Revolving around the popular character/Destroyer named Fubuki, we see how this girl who doesn’t look like she can fight, often clumsy and is always scared, would eventually train hard to become a better fighter, a better teammate but also inspired to one day fight alongside the person who inspired her, aircraft carrier Akagi.

There are a ton of characters in the game and there are a ton of characters in the series, but fortunately, the series focuses on Fubuki and her friends from the Third Torpedo Squadron.  We see how these girls train to fight and become better, but we also see how unsafe the waters are and how powerful the enemy is and you’ll see characters perishing during battle.

Needless to say, the anime series compliments the games very well.  Animation is vibrant, well-shaded and detailed, especially the background artwork.  The Japanese and English soundtrack are well done, but it’s interesting because for the Japanese soundtrack, unlike the English dub which casts a different person per role, in the Japanese version, a voice actress may have to do the dubwork for multiple people.  But both soundtracks are well-acted.

As for special features, you get a few of Japanese promotional videos, commercials and warnings.  But there are no major special features like audio commentary or significant featurettes.

Overall, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is an action anime series inspired by the popular browser-based and PS Vita video game. It’s a series that caught Japan by storm in 2015 and now the anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S.  A great compliment to the video games, if you are intrigued about war at sea and cute anime characters, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is a series I recommend!

Gangsta.: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans. With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Ao Jumonji, OVERLAP/Grimgar. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Gangsta.: The Complete Series

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: 12 Episodes (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: May 16, 2017


Originally created by Kohske

Series Director: Koichi Hatsumi

Directed by Shukou Murase

Series Composition by Shinichi Inotsume

Music by Tsutchie

Character Design by Yoichi Ueda

Art Director: Masatoshi Kai

Chief Animation Director: Yoichi Ueda

Animation Production by Manglobe


Featuring the following voice talent:

Junichi Suwabe/Ian Sinclair as Worick Arcangelo

Kenjiro Tsuda/Brandon Potter as Nicolas Brown

Mamiko Noto/Felecia Angelle as Alex Benedetto

Ami Koshimizu/Jad Saxton as Constance Raveau

Aoi Yūki/Bryn Apprill as Nina

Atsumi Tanezaki/Clifford Chapin as Mikhail

Hideyuki Umezu/Greg Dulcie as Uranos Corsica

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Greg Ayres as Doug

Junji Majima/Ricco Fajardo as Emilio Benedetto

Kaito Ishikawa/Aaron Roberts as Cody Balfour

Kana Ueda/Alexis Tipton as Loretta Cristiano Amodio

Katsuhisa Houki/Mark Stoddard as Daniel Monroe

Koji Yusa/R Bruce Elliott as Domenico Arcangelo

Mari Yokoo as Georgiana “Big Mama

Masako Isobe/Rachel Robinson as Joel Raveau

Mikako Komatsu/Jamie Marchi as Ginger

Satoshi Mikami/Robert McCollum as Dr. Theo

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Beretta



In the city of Ergastulum, the area is full of thieves, whores and murderers.  And as for the police, they are corrupted and chaos is king.

This is the setting for the manga series known as “Gangsta.”, written and illustrated by female mangaka Kohske.

Debuting in 2009 with the short story “Postman” for Shonen GanGan Magazine, “Gangsta” has been running in “Monthly Comic Bunch” in 2011 and a total of seven tankobon volumes have been published in Japan.  Along a spinoff series titled “Gangsta: Cursed – EP_MARCO ADRIANO” which three volumes have been released in Japan so far.

In 2015, a 12-episode anime series from Manglobe was released in Japan and now, the anime series was released in the United States in May 2017 courtesy of FUNimation.

The series director is Koichi Hatsume, director is Shukou Murase, series composition by Shinichi Inotsume, character design by Yoichi Ueda and art direction by Masatoshi Kai.

“Gangsta.” begins with a prostitute being assaulted outside a building.  Meanwhile, inside a building are two owners of the business known as “Handymen”, Nic and Worick, two men paid to take on assassination or difficult jobs that police or big business can’t handle.

As Nic and Worick are completing a job with the elder businesswoman inside the building, they see the beaten prostitute going inside the building.

The Handymen are then called for business with the police department and are sent to go after a gang leader named Barry Abbot (the man seen beating on the prostitute in the opening pages).  Both Nick and Worick are hired by the inspector to eliminate him and his gang (including his prostitutes) as they are doing business in the restricted zone.  They work out a deal that they can take whatever they can in return for killing them.

As Nic and Worick go after the gang and eliminated everyone including the gang leader known as Barry. They run into the prostitute and give her the opportunity to escape.  But instead, the prostitute named Alex comes back and instead of killing her, they decide to take her (as in agreement with the inspector) and make her as part of the Handymen as one of their employees.

Meanwhile, as Alex continues to work for the Handymen, she tries to figure both Nic and Worick out.   Is Nic an ex-mercenary, does he talk at all?  Why does Worick wear an eyepatch?

One day, Alex sees a newspaper article about a massacre of the Arcangelo family 20-years-ago, all were killed except a 13-year-old boy who was 13 at the time.  And the perpretator, said to be a boy hired as a mercenary by the family.  And Alex begins to wonder, can the two boys be Worick and Nic?  Is Worick the missing boy that was never found?

But as Alex starts to wonder about the two men that she is working for, the Handymen get involved in major trouble as they must take on a gang that is threatening Dr. Theo and his assistant, Nina.a gang war seems to be inevitable as Corsica and Cristiano are engaged in a battle of outwitting each other and destroy each other’s families with the use of Twilights.  But what happens when the Handymen come and Nic must take on another Twilight A/O.


VIDEO:

“Gangsta.” is presented in 1080p High Definition and Manglobe did a wonderful job with this series. Capture Kohske’s world that was featured in the manga, character designs were done very well.  Characters are well-shaded and backgrounds are pained and are well-done.  There is a slight softness for some scenes, as one can expect from a TV series but for the most part, the anime looks great on Blu-ray and the reds (especially with the high amount of blood) is vibrant.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Gangsta.” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music including environment and ambiance are well-utilized throughout the surround channels for the lossless English dub soundtrack. Both soundtracks are well-acted but in terms of channel utilization, with the English lossless soundtrack receiving a 5.1 treatment, that soundtrack has an edge.  And as the voice acting is well-done on both soundtracks, for the English dub, Brandon Potter, Felecia Angelle and Ian Sinclair did a wonderful job but also great care was made in trying get Nicolas Brown’s speech right, because he is deaf and Brandon Potter did a solid job with the speech patterns.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gangsta.” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 01 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Chris Bevins, Ian Sinclair (voice of Worick Arcangelo), Brandon Potter (voice of Nicolas Brown) and Felecia Angelle (voice of Alex Benedetto).
  • Episode 2 Video Commentary  – Featuring a video commentary with Ian Sinclair (voice of Worick Arcangelo), Brandon Potter (voice of Nicolas Brown) and Felecia Angelle (voice of Alex Benedetto).
  • Episode 9.5 – A “Gangsta.” recap episode. (Japanese only)
  • Promo Videos
  • Commercial
  • Textless Opening and Closing Themes
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Gangsta.: The Complete Series” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


With the release of “Gangsta.”, we get to see somewhat of a western influence in this manga series by Kohske.

Reminiscent of Frank Miller’s “Sin City”, where the world has gone corrupt and in the city of Ergastulum, a city overrun by thugs, gangs, mafia, whores and murderers, the police are just as bad and when the going gets tough, the only way for the police to maintain order is by hiring mercenaries, in this case, the Handymen, Nic and Worick.

Nic is the silent, deadly killer with a sword. Worick is the playboy with an eyepatch that is good with a gun and together, they are two men who aren’t afraid of taking on the most corrupt people in Ergastulum. And it’s not a duty done for the sake of morality but to them, it’s money and survival.

As these two men are mysterious individuals and through the eyes of former prostitute Alex, who joins the Handymen as their personal secretary or whatever she can be used for in order to get the job done, even Alex, has her thoughts on both men and their mysterious background.

But in this city, there is no normal.  There is no peace.  And right now, a major gang war is about to ignite between the Corsica and Cristiano gang.  And for the Handymen, they have their hands tied in trying to keep people alive while Twilight A/O’s have been hired to assassinate major gang members but now all of a sudden have become the hunted as anti-twilight groups are infiltrating Ergastulum to kill them off..

Meanwhile, Alex is wallowing in her depression, not knowing what has happened to her young brother that she was unable to protect.

With “Gangsta.”, we get to see how corrupt this world they live in but how they fit in to all the chaos. There is no one that is pure in Ergastulum, everything is corrupt, a lot of violence over runs the city but there is a sense of kindness for some people and with the Handymen, while killing is their job, the act of kindness of having Alex as an employee is rather fascinating.

Kohske has developed a intriguing series full of sex and violence but also an illustration style that is unique to her style of work. The anime series is respectful to the original manga content and there is a western influence and it will be interesting to see how the story of “Gangsta.” will continue considering there is other stories left for the anime to explore in the future.

And Manglobe and anime production crew did a wonderful job with this series and staying true to the original manga.  The anime series looks and sounds wonderful on Blu-ray and there are good number of special features included as well.

Overall, “Gangsta.” is an action-packed anime series about mysterious two assassins for hire in a crime-filled land and a former prostitute who starts working for them. An intriguing and rare manga series to come from Japan, if you are looking for a manga series with a little sex and plenty  of violence, “Gangsta.” by Kohske is a manga series worth recommending!

Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans. With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Ao Jumonji,  OVERLAP/Grimgar. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 12 Episodes (335 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Ao Jumonji

Directed by Ryosuke Nakamura

Script by Ryosuke Nakamura

Music by R.O.N.

Original Character Design by Eiri Shirai

Character Design by Mieko Hosoi

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko

Chief Animation Director: Mieko Hosoi

Animation Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ricco Fajardo as Haruhiro

Chika Anzai/Jad Saxton as Mary

Daisuke Namikawa/Todd Haberkorn as Kikkawa

Fukushi Ochiai/Jarrod Greene as Moguzo

Haruka Terui/Sarah Wiedenheft as Shihoru

Hiroki Yasumoto/Mike McFarland as Brittany

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Orion Pitts as Ranta

Mamiko Noto/Jamie Marchi as Barbara

Mikako Komatsu/Jeannie Tirado as Yume

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Justin Briner as Manato

Tomokazu Seki/Jason Liebrecht as Renji



Back in 2013, writer Ao Jumonji and illustrator Eiri Shirai collaborated on a Japanese light novel series titled “Hai to Genso ni Gurimugaru” (“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”).  With a total of nine novels created, a manga adaptation by Mutsumi Okubashi was serialized in “Gangan Joker” in 2015.

Due to the popularity of the series, a 12-episode anime series produced by A-1 Pictures aired in Japan from January through March 2016 and an OVA followed afterward.

The series is directed and written by Ryosuke Nakamura (“Aiura”, “Nana”, “Psychic School Wars”, “Moryo no Hako”), music by R.O.N. (“Aquarion Logos”, “Solty Rei”, “Unlimited Fafnir”), character design by Mieko Hosoi (“Aiura”, “Aoi Bungaku”) and art direction by Hidetoshi Kaneko (“”Devil Hunter Yohko”, “Chance Pop Session”, Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals”, “Jubei-Chan the Ninja Girl”, “Mermaid’s Scar”, “X”).

And now the “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is available on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The story follows a young man named Haruhiro and several people who awaken in a fantasy world and remember nothing but their own names.  They all find out that they must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and must support themselves to survive and that is by killing goblins to earn money.  As many of the strong join groups, Haruhiro and others were not chosen and so they form their own group.

As Haruhiro and his friends become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers, they must join forces to survive and train and use their skills to defeat goblins.

The primary characters in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” are:

  • Haruhiro – A softspoken person who is level-headed and becomes the group’s thief.
  • Yume – She is brave and is the hunter of the group.   She often tries to protect Shihoru and is att odds with Ranta.
  • Shihoru – The shy member of the group. She is a mage.
  • Ranta – The Dark Knight of the group.  He is perverted and outspoken and tends to cause trouble with the group because of his rash decisions.
  • Manato – The teams priest (healer) and the group leader.  A strategist that sees the positive in each member of the group.
  • Moguzo – The tallest and heaviest member of the group and the team’s warrior.  Loves cooking.
  • Mary – A priest (healer) who became colder due to the death of her friends.
  • Renji – Arried the same time Haruhiro and others but has graduated from being a trainee quickly.

VIDEO:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in 1080p High Definition and A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with this series.  The backgrounds are nicely painted and look like it was painted with watercolors.  Meanwhile, characters are well shaded and colors are vibrant.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Dialogue and music including environment and ambiance are well-utilized throughout the surround channels for the lossless English dub soundtrack.  Both soundtracks are well-acted but in terms of channel utilization, with the English lossless soundtrack receiving a 5.1 treatment, that soundtrack has an edge.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the following special features:

  • OVA 2.5 – Staking Our Youths on the Bath Wall – One More Centimeter
  • Episode 04 Video Commentary – Featuring Funimation staff Godswill (social media coordinator), Casey (promo video) and Ian (senior graphic designer)
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


For those who play video games, I’m sure the gamer had once thought, “what if we were in our own video game?”.

It’s something I know my RPG-loving friends have joked about and while we have seen anime where characters’s avatars or consciousness were trapped in a video game (ala “.Hack” or “Sword Art Online”) but what if people were transported into a fantasy world where they fought in classes like an RPG video game?

This is somewhat of the idea in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”.  Numerous people transported to a fantasy world and they have no choice but to fight or die.

Fighting is the only option for one to make money, buy food or purchase things and to do that, you must become a soldier.  And for these new people who have arrived, they immediately must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and join up in guilds.  Train and learn new skills and fight goblins who will do all they can to kill you.

The anime series focuses on a group of people who were not selected to join a major guild, so they join forces and become their own group.  And as they become friends and try to learn how to use their skills to fight goblins, they don’t know how bad the dangers are until one of their own is killed.

And now they must find a way to continue on, grow as a team and protect each other.

Featuring beautiful animation and beautifully painted backgrounds courtesy of A-1 Pictures, the anime series looks vibrant and gorgeous on Blu-ray.  The lossless soundtrack for both English and Japanese soundtracks are fantastic but the English soundtrack gets an edge as it was made into a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, while the Japanese version is a stereo lossless soundtrack.

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” come with an OVA and an episode 4 video commentary by the English dub talent.

Overall, “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans.  With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of.

Recommended!

Ninjaslayer From Animation (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who enjoyed anime such as “Inferno Cop” will no doubt enjoy this series. For those who like anime series that are different from the norm, may enjoy this. Unfortunately, it was probably the worst anime series I have watched in 2016 and that is disappointing, considering I really enjoyed the manga series. If you are considering purchasing this anime series on Blu-ray, do some research and find out if it’s for you.  The good news is that all 26-episodes are included in this Blu-ray/DVD set!  But in my opinion, it’s not recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ninja Slayer From Animation

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-26) 358 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English and Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATING: TV 14

Release Date: December 16, 2016


Originally created by Bradley Bond and Philip Ninj@ Morzez

Original Art by Yuki Yogo

Original Script by Yoshiaki Tabata

Directed by Akira Amemiya

Storyboards and Episode Director: Noriyoshi Sasaki

Music by Kenji Fujisawa, Shinichi Osawa

Character Design by Hiroyuki Imaishi, saitom, Serere Inato, Yusuke Yoshigaki

Art Director:Akira Katsuta, Young Jae Lee

Anime Production: Trigger


Featuring the following voice talent:

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Kenji Fujikido/Ninja Slayer

Chiwa Saito/Trina Nishimura as Nancy Lee

Goblin/Kent Williams as Narrator

Mamiko Noto/Jad Saxton as Electronic Maiko

Masane Tsukayama/Bill Jenkins as Laomoto Khan

Mugihito/R Bruce Elliott as Naraku Ninja

Risa Taneda/Bryn Apprill as Dragon Yukano

Sho Hayami/Chris Ryan as Fujio Katakura/Darkninja

Sora Amamiya/Monica Rial as Koki Yamoto

Tesshō Genda/Tyler Walker as Clone Yakuza


Domo, civilian, I am Ninja Slayer! Once a common, non-ninja, nine-to-five man, it’s now my duty to send all ninja souls to hell. It’s an insatiable thirst that I must quench to avenge the tragic death of my family. A mysterious spirit filled with rage has penetrated my soul giving me the ultimate power to fulfill my vengeance and destroy any ninja who dares to cross my path. Hell-bent on ninja carnage, I won’t stop slashing and bashing until I hear my enemies kiss their pathetic lives goodbye with a bloodcurdling scream of “Sayonara!” Die ninja. DIE! I am your Grim Reaper!

Ahem.

Won’t you live in my fury, friend? Join me in unleashing burning rage, and watch me spray the blood of a gagillion ninjas all over this nightmarish hell. For I am Ninja Slayer, killer of all ninjas!


“Ninja Slayer” purportedly is the product of American authors Bradley Bond and Phillip “Ninj@” Morzez.  Posted originally on Twitter and translated in Japanese by Honda Yu and Sugi Leika, it would become popular and would be released in 2012 in a volume titled “Ninja Slayer: Neo-Saitama in Flames” by Enterbrain.

In Japan, there have been several tankobon volumes.  In 2013, a second manga adaptation titled “Ninja Slayer: Glamorous Killers” with art by Ageha Saotome was featured on Enterbrain’s “B’s-Log Comic”.  A third manga adaptation titled “Ninja Slayer Kills” was serialized in Kodansha’s “Suiyobi no Sirius”.

A manga adaptation was released in 2015 on Niconico and the TV broadcast was released in 2016.  The anime series simulcast in North America courtesy of FUNimation and now the entire 26-episode series is available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The anime series was produced by Trigger (“Little Witch Academia”) and the series was directed by Akira Amemiya (“Psychic Squad”, “Gurren Lagann”), storyboards by Noriyoshi Sasaki (“Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable”, “Ojisan to Marshmallow”), music by Kenji Fujisawa (“Nanbaka”, “Hyakko”, “Before Green Gables”) and electronic music artist Shinichi Ohsawa.

The series is set in a gritty, futuristic city of Neo-Saitama and many people are getting killed, monsters roam the streets but the most deadly are the menacing army of cybernetic-clad ninjas under the rule of the Soukai syndicate.

But as many citizens are getting killed in the ninja turf war, one heroic ninja known as Ninja Slayer plans to make sure that all ninja are slaughtered by his own hands.

We see the Ninja Slayer interrupt a Massacre Games fight against the Kill-Zone Sumo Wrestler by the Kachigumi Salarymen.

Meanwhile, two teenage ninjas are introduced.  A teenage girl named Yamoto Koki, who’s ninja powers just came out and a mysterious new transfer named Shogo.

we see the aftermath as Shogo has been kidnapped and tortured by the powerful ninja henchman, Sonic Boom.

Sonic Boom wants Shogo to lure Yamoto Koki, so they can control her.

But will Shogo allow that? And will the two be able to face off against the powerful and evil ninja?

In another episode, the after-math between battle of Ninja Slayer and Sonic Boom has led to a major explosion and rumors are quickly swirling that Ninja Slayer was killed in battle.

In Neo-Saitama, a Sumo Shop is the residence of the Kill-Elephant Yakuza Clan led by their Yakuza Boss, Yamahiro.

And because ninja are above the yakuza, they are trying to get payment from the yakuza or else they die.  But one person is there to protect the yakuza, a mysterious being known as Yakuza Tengu.

Meanwhile,  a team of ninja brothers – Green Elephant and Gas Burner are causing trouble in the area and Yamahiro tries to make himself a yakuza samurai hero to protect shop owners from these ninja brothers.

But when the ninjas are on a murdering rampage, can Yakuza Tengu beat them?

Featuring the origin of Yamoto’s ninja power and what happens to Shogo when he is apprehended by police?

The Ninja Slayer is also seeking for an antidote for the anti-ninja virus, “Takeuchi” which has infected his master, Dragon Gendoso.

His search has brought him to journalist and master hacker, Nancy Lee. The problem is that the anti-virus is hidden in Yoroshisan’s Plant, No. 1 and he can’t infiltrate the facility alone. He will need to trust Nancy as a partner. But will the lone ninja be able to trust her?


VIDEO:

“Ninjaslayer From Animation” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). Having read several volumes of the manga series, I was expecting for an ultraviolent, action-packed anime series with animation that best supports the manga series.

In someway, I was expecting anime and violence along the lines of “Afro Samurai”, instead, we get an animation that looks experimental with typical anime-type scenes to something that looks like it was created on Windows Paint.  Animation that seemed intentional or inevitable because it looked like it was created on a low budget and also, a change of character designs when compared to the manga series in order for it to be shown on television.

No doubt the animation will be subjective to the viewer but personally, having enjoyed the manga series, the anime style was not exactly what I was expecting.

If you enjoyed the animation style of “Inferno Cop”, then you’ll enjoy “Ninjaslayer From Animation”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ninjaslayer From Animation” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music is clear through the front channels for the lossless stereo soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ninjaslayer From Animation” features the following special features:

  • Episode 25 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with voice actor Christopher R. Sabat (voice of Ninjaslayer).
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Ninjaslayer From Animation” comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.


“Ninja Slayer” on manga is violent, dark and action-packed.  In some ways, it reminds me a little of “Hokuto no Ken” (Fist of the Northstar) and how a city is overrun by madmen and sick monster-like beings. In this case, Neo-Saitama is run by ninja who operate under the rules of the Soukai Syndicate.  But one ninja, known as the Ninja Slayer, will do anything to make sure all ninja are killed.

Highly anticipating the anime series and expecting an anime series along the lines of the violence and action of “Afro Samurai”, no doubt I had my hopes set high for “Ninjaslayer From Animation”.

Of the anime series I have watched in 2016, “Ninjaslayer From Animation” was the worst I have watched all year long because what made the manga so fascinating, exciting and enjoyable was given an anime adaptation that not only was respectful to the manga series, it came out as an animated mess.

Granted, if the goal was to be funny and show the anime series in an experimental style incorporating the anime style that most people are expecting and artwork that looks like a child had drawn it and like a low-budget home-made anime title that resembles anime style work created on Windows Paint that I was used to seeing on PC downloaded files from anime BBS’ from 1993.

Whether the animation style was created this way due to budget or due to a break in banality and give something to audiences at an attempt of humor, whatever the case may be, I am one who dislikes seeing anime adaptations that deviate too much from the original creation.

Sure, there are anime adaptations, that deviate from the original storyline due to the manga series not being complete and original stories have to be written or filler-episodes need to be created, but yet, there is a respect to the original creation.

“Ninjaslayer From Animation” is different and yes, I understand that the “Ninjaslayer” manga series used a fictitious name for its creators (it has not been established if the original creators were actually real people but the majority of the manga readers believe the original creators – Bradley Bond and Philip Ninj@ Morzez are fictitious) but there was a style, fascinatingly dark character designs and way-out there action that had the potential of becoming something different.  Sure, it would have made a great OVA, but as a TV series, a lot of sacrifices were made that made me feel disappointed in the overall anime series.

As for the Blu-ray release, you get a single episode audio commentary.  And even Funimation decided to go experimental with their audio commentary with hums, echo effects and audio commentary played in reverse.

For those who enjoyed anime such as “Inferno Cop” will no doubt enjoy this series.  For those who like anime series that are different from the norm, may enjoy this.   Unfortunately, it was probably the worst anime series I have watched in 2016 and that is disappointing, considering I really enjoyed the manga series.

If you are considering purchasing this anime series on Blu-ray, do some research and find out if it’s for you.  The good news is that all 26-episodes are included in this Blu-ray/DVD set!  But in my opinion, it’s not recommended!

The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are in the mood for an action-driven anime series with cute moe characters and zany storylines, then “The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” is for you!  Otherwise, it’s a series with lost potential and average at best.

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: August 2, 2016


Directed by Kotomi Deai

Screenplay by Yasuyuki muto

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Original Character Design by tanu

Character Design by Katsuhiko Kiatada

Art Director: Eriko Shibayama, Kunihiko Inaba, Ryo Kono, Seiki Tamura, Shinobu Takahashi, Shunichiro Yoshihara

Anime Production: Wit Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ari Ozawa/Felecia Angelle as Nozomi Moritomo

Rina Hidaka/Monica Rial as Yukina Kosaka

Risa Taneda/Jad Saxton as Ai Hibiki

Yumiri Hanamori/Leah Clark as Chiaya Misono

Akio Ohtsuka/J. Michael Tatum as Dandy

Ayumi Fujimura/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Masami Utoku

Fuyuka Oura/Jamie Marchi as Kuniko Shigyou

Hiroki Touchi/Eric Vale as Tomomori Moritomo


Wit Studio (Attack on Titan, Seraph of the End) is back with Rolling Girls, a road-trip adventure filled with vibrant color, energetic style, and a whole lot of heart.

Between super-powered fighters known as “Bests” battling across the city and fanatical vigilante squads cheering them on from the ground below, it’s easy for an average girl to get lost in the shuffle. But when her town’s Best gets taken out by a rival, Nozomi Moritomo gasses up her motorcycle and sets off across Japan to take her place.

Joined by the feisty wannabe Best, Ai, the wandering artist Yukina, and the spacy but mysterious Chiaya, Nozomi and her makeshift motorcycle gang cross the country settling scores between warring districts.

In a world that favors the Best over the rest, it’s hard for an average girl to find where she belongs, but one thing’s for sure–until she gets there, it’s going to be a wild ride.


In 2014, Yosuke Miyagi and illustrator Bonkara would create two volume manga for “The Rolling Girls” for “Monthly Comic Garden” and the manga series “Ro~lling Gi~rls Inspiration x Traveler” followed by Miyagi and illustrator Sheepbox  for “Online Magazine comic Blade” is currently ongoing.

In January-March 2015, Wit Studio’s anime adaptation of the “The Rolling Girls” aired on television and in the US courtesy of Funimation Channel.  And now the series will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

The anime series was directed by Kotomi Deai (“Silver Spoon”, “Natsume Yujin-Cho Go”), screenplay by Yasuyuki Muto (“Afro Samurai”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn RE:0096”, “Persona -trinity soul-“), music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Freezing”, “Hyperdimension Neptuna”, “Plastic Memories”), character design by Katsuhiko Kitada (“Hal”, “Doukyusei -Classmates”).

“Rolling Girls” is set ten years after the “Great Tokyo War” and many of Japan’s political and economic elites have mysteriously disappeared. So, the country was split up to 10 prefectures and independent city-states that compete against each other.

In these competitions, the vigilantes who fought in the war are known as the “Best” (Mosas) and represent their prefecture.  And their supporters are known as the “Rest” (Mobs).

Two Best’s are often battling, Masami Utoku of Tokorozawa who assumes the design of the green-suited superhero “Maccha Green” and Kuniko, who is the “legendary executioner” and the Best of Higashi Murayama.

The rivalry between these two are huge and Kuniko despises Masami and when Kuniko takes the battle to great heights, both were barely able to survive and were hospitalized.

One of Maccha Green’s/Masami Utoku’s biggest supporters is her childhood friend, Nozomi Moritomo.  The only daughter of the Morimoto family who runs the Moritomo Restaurant in Tokorozawa.

Masami always had protected Nozomi and during the battle with Kuniko, she nearly died trying to protect her friend.

Not wanting anyone to protect her, Nozomi is told by her Best to go on a road trip with her friends Yukina Kosaka (a shy and tone-deaf runaway); a former Rest of Higashi Murayama, Ai Hibiki (temperamental and joins up with Nozomi and friends); and Chiaya Misono, a girl wearing a gasmask who somehow knows the names of Nozomi, Yukina and Ai.  She is also the adopted daughter of Haruka Misono, president of Tokorozawa.

And together, these four characters travel to find heart-shaped power stones (which gave amazing power to Maccha Green and Kuniko) and to grow as friends and to also observe other prefectures.

What will these four individuals discover during their adventures?  And can they trust and work with each other?


VIDEO:

“The Rolling Girls” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured are beautifully animated and there is wonderful use of artistic backgrounds that are beautifully painted and the use of water colors and matte like surface and also the use of purple line art for its character designs.

Colors are vibrant, black levels are deep. There is slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, due to the detail, Wit Studio did a great job with this anime series!

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Rolling Girls” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music is clear through the front channels for the lossless stereo soundtrack but because the English is 5.1, there is better use of the surround channels.

Voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done! Lossless audio is crystal clear and while not the most immersive soundtrack (which I typically don’t expect TV series to boast incredible immersive lossless soundtracks, unlike a film or OVA series), “The Rolling Girls” does sound very good on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” features the following special features:

  • Episode 8 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Colleen Clinkenbeard (ADR Director), Jad Saxton (voice of Ai Hibiki), Monica Real (voice of Yukina Kosaka).
  • Episode 12 Video Commentary – Featuring audio commentary Clifford Chapin (Assistant ADR Director), Felecia Angelle (voice of Nozomi Moritomo) and Leah Clark (voice of Chiaya Misono).
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Previews for Episodes 2-12
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “The Rolling Girls”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.


“The Rolling Girls” is an animated series that started off with amazing potential but somehow became a little too convoluted and tried to do too much within its 12-episode run.

I loved the idea of the “Bests” and the “Rests” and how the Best represented various prefectures and how they go into battle.  It’s an interesting way to show battles between the prefectures and I absolutely loved the incorporation of some Tokusatsu with the hero Maccha Green. But after the two episodes, the series goes in another direction as it focuses on the adventures of four young ladies trying to find Power Stones which have powered the Bests.

While I found the characters to be quite cute and their adventures to be fun, the constant bickering, the politics, aliens and everything else thrown to the viewer really got me confused that I had to rewatch episodes, just in case I missed out on something.

I felt that too many things were incorporated in this anime series to attract all types of otaku but yet the storyline doesn’t have any meaningful substance.  And it’s a shame because I felt the series had better potential earlier in the series.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is presented in 16:9 widescreen and animation is very detailed and quite vibrant. Wit Studio did a magnificent job in featuring wonderful character designs but also  the use of painted background and also foreground art. The Blu-ray release comes with two audio commentaries, textless opening and ending songs.

Overall, if you are in the mood for an action-driven anime series with cute moe characters and zany storylines, then “The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” is for you!  Otherwise, it’s a series with lost potential and average at best.

Terror in Resonance: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

terrorinresonance

“Terror in Resonance” is a riveting anime series that is unique and unpredictable from beginning to end.  If you are looking for a shorter anime series with wonderful animation and a captivating storyline, “Terror in Resonance: The Complete Series” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Terror in Resonance: The Complete Series

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 1-11 (275 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: January 19, 2016


Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe

Script by Hiroshi Seko, Jun Kumagai, Kenta Ihara, Shoten Yano

Music by Yoko Kanno

Original Concept by Shinichiro Watanabe

Character Design by Kazuto Nakazawa

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko

Mecha Design by Shinobu Tsuneki

Anime Production: MAPPA


Featuring the following voice talent:

Atsumi Tanezaki/Jad Saxton as Lisa Mishima

Kaito Ishikawa/Christopher Bevins as Arata ‘Nine’ Kokonoe

Sōma Saitō/Aaron Dismuke as Toji ‘Twelve’ Hisami

Megumi Han/Jamie Marchi as Five

Shunsuke Sakuya/Robert McCollum as Shibazaki


Legendary director Shinichiro Watanabe and famed composer Yoko Kanno are back with the suspense-filled intellectual thriller, Terror in Resonance!

Tokyo has just been decimated by a shocking terrorist attack, and the only hint to the identity of the culprit is a bizarre video uploaded to the internet. The police, baffled by this cryptic clue, are powerless to stop the paranoia spreading across the population.

While the world searches for a criminal mastermind to blame for this tragedy, two mysterious teens who shouldn’t even exist masterfully carry out their heinous plan. A determined detective is hot on the culprit’s heels, but to catch them he must navigate a tangled web of riddles and false leads. Can he stop them before they carry out their plan to wake the world from its slumber – and pull the trigger on this world?


From “Cowboy Bebop” and “Macross Plus” director Shinichiro Watanabe comes “Terror in Resonance” (Zankyou no Teroru).

Featuring an all-star creative cast which includes music by Yoko Kanno ( “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Macross 7”, “Aquarion”, “Cowboy Bebop”), character designs by Kazuto Nakazawa (“Ashita no Nadja”, “Hells”, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”, “House of Five Leaves”) and art direction by Hidetoshi Kaneko (“Battle Angel”, “Devil Hunter Yohko”, “Black Lagoon”, “Record of Lodoss War”) with anime production courtesy of MAPPA (“Kids on the Slope”, “Garo: The Animation”, “Ushio and Tora”).

The 11-episode anime series aired on Fuji TV’s Noitamina block from July through September 2014 and will be released by FUNimation on Blu-ray and DVD in January 2016.

The series begins with a terrorist attack in Tokyo and video of the two responsible causing fear throughout Japan.

The terrorist group Sphinx consists of the stoic Nine and the childish Twelve want nothing more than to wake people up from their slumber and pull the trigger.  What the two didn’t expect is having a high school girl named Lisa Mishima becoming part of their group.

Meanwhile, Kenjiro Shibazaki of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department is doing all he can to prevent more of the Sphinx terrorists attacks in Tokyo, with help from an American FBI government agent known as Five, who may have a connection to Nine and Twelve.


VIDEO:

“Terror in Resonance: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The animation is vibrant and quite detailed, especially the art backgrounds.  While the character designs featuring a style different from what you see in other anime series, the detailed art backgrounds lend to the wonderful look and feel to the anime series.   I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Terror in Resonance: The Complete Series” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese DolbyTrueHD 2.0. As one can expect, the anime series’ lossless soundtrack is much better in English due to the 5.1 soundtrack.  But the Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack sounds very good considering it’s just a stereo soundtrack. Both series are well acted and I have to give credit to Jad Saxton who does her best performance to date as the emotional Lisa Mishima.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Terror in Resonance: The Complete Series” features the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with English dub voice talents: Christopher Bevins, Aaron Dismuke and Jad Saxton.
  • Textless OP & ED

EXTRAS:

“Terror in Resonance: The Complete Series” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the TV series.


With a lot of media turning its attention to the acts of extremists and terrorism, the anime series “Terror in Resonance” focuses on various storylines and perspectives.

The main characters are Five and Twelve, young terrorists known as “Sphinx” who have been blowing up buildings in Tokyo and causing fear and panic in Japan.  Having run into a teenage girl named Lisa (who has been bullied in high school and also having to deal with her unruly mother, because she finds out the identities of the two terrorists, she has a choice to join them or die.  Of course, Lisa chooses the former and becomes part of “Sphinx”.

Meanwhile, on the police end, we are introduced to Kenjiro Shibazaki of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Deparment and used to be one of the top members of the investigations division.  But now, demoted to the records division.

When the terrorist attacks begin, Shibazaki’s associate asks him to return to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, as they need his skills to catch the two terrorists and prevent them from creating more attacks in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, another group, the American FBI sends in their operative Five to go to Japan as part of her duties with NEST and help out the terrorist attack investigations.  But it appears that Five has her own reasons of wanting to catch Five and Twelve.  Why is she causing problem for both of them?

For a short anime series, “Terror in Resonance” is an intriguing storyline, especially when we start to hear about the “Athena Project” and also learn more about why Five and Twelve are determined on doing what they do.

Animation is wonderful and the art backgrounds are highly detailed and are gorgeous to look at.  The Blu-ray release features vibrant illustrations.  Like other FUNimation animation on Blu-ray releases, because the English dub receives a lossless 5.1 soundtrack, there is much better use of the surround channels.  While the Japanese soundtrack, like most Japanese anime TV series are in stereo.  As for special features, “Terror in Resonance: The Complete Series” comes with an episode commentary, U.S. trailer and trailers.

Overall, “Terror in Resonance” is a riveting anime series that is unique and unpredictable from beginning to end.  If you are looking for a shorter anime series with wonderful animation and a captivating storyline, “Terror in Resonance: The Complete Series” is recommended!

Our J!-ENT 2014 ANNUAL is now available!

November 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

J!-ENT ANIME/COSPLAY/VIDEO GAME/J-POP SPECIAL FEATURE 2012

Each year, we release a J!-ENT annual issue that deals with Asian pop culture and also our event coverage throughout the year.  It’s our most popular feature that we do each year and for 2014, our latest issue is now available.

This issue features interviews with manga artists Rinko Ueda, Art Q&A with Range Murata, Hiroshi Nagahama, interviews with Elisa, Tomomi Itano, Man with a Mission, May’n, Tokyo Girls’ Style, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Pinky Doodle Poodle!, Yanakiku, Q&A with legendary voice actress Mami Koyama, interview with English dub voice actress Jad Saxton and more!

Also, featuring Q&A’s for anime series such as “Attack on Titan”, “Sword Art Online II”, “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” and more!

Plus our coverage of various events such as Power Morphicon 2014, Zapp Con, Pacific Media Expo, Sakura Con and more!

You can download the issue here:

LOW-RES:

You can view a low-res version on PDFy by clicking here.

You can also view the low-res version by clicking here. [57 MB]

You can download the low-res version [zip file] by clicking here. [47MB]

MID-RES (*PREFERRED VERSION):

You can view the mid-res PDF version by clicking here (300 MB)

You can download the mid-res PDF version (Zip file) by clicking here. (299 MB)

HI-RES:

Coming soon!

Wolf Children (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

fairytail-v5

“Wolf Children” has turned out to be a magnificent, touching and gorgeous film on Blu-ray!  Mamoru Hosoda’s films have always been about quality, from its overall look but most importantly,  storytelling that is absolutely captivating.  If you are looking for an animated film on Blu-ray, “Wolf Children” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Wolf Children

ANIME THEATRICAL RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 117 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 5.1, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: November 26, 2013

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Screenplay by Mamoru Hosoda, Satoko Okudera

Music by Masakatsu Takagi

Animation Director: Takaaki Yamashita

Art Director: Hiroshi Ohno

Anime Production: Studio Chizu

Featuring the following voice talent:

Aoi Miyazaki/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Hana

Takao Osawa/David Matranga as Ookami/Wolf Man

Amon Kabe/Alison Viktorin as Ame (Child)

Haru Kuroki/Jad Saxton as Yuki

Momoka Ono/Lara Woodhull as Yuki (Child)

Takuma Hiraoka/Jason Liebrecht as Souhei

Yukito Nishii/Micah Solusod as Ame

Experience the latest masterpiece from the internationally-acclaimed, award-winning director of Summer Wars.

Hana was a student before she was a mother. She was bright and pretty, and her future held endless possibilities. Then she met a man, who turned out to be a wolf, and together they built a family.Hana loved her mate fiercely, but fate took him from her, leaving her alone with two unusual kids she didn’t know how to raise. Frightened of being discovered, Hana and her wolf children fled to the countryside to build a new life. Raising her little wild things was an adventure. It left Hana bruised, scratched, exhausted, and joyously overwhelmed as her pups grew stronger and wandered further every day. This is a mother’s journey. Teach your children to chase their dreams – and smile through the tears as they disappear into the world in search of who they will become. Hana wasn’t always a mother, but it was always what she was meant to be.

From filmmaker and animator Mamoru Hosoda, founder of Studio Chizu (“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, “Summer Wars”) comes his latest film “Wolf Children”.

A box office success in Japan, the film would feature technical and star talent.

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda and co-written by Hosoda and Satoko Okudera (“Summer Wars”, “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”), character designs by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (“Evangelion”, “Gunbuster”, “.Hack” series, “FLCL”), background art by Hiroshi Ohno (“Akira”, “Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”, “Kiki’s Delivery Service”) and animation direction by Takaaki Yamashita (“Digimon” films).

Talents of the Japanese version of the film would feature big screent alents Aoi Miyazaki (“Nana”, “Solanin, “Colorful”, “Honey and Clover”) and Takao Osawa (“Hoshi no Kinka”, “Utsukushi Hito”, “Dessin”).  The film would also feature first time voice talents Amon Kabe, Haru Kuroki, Momoka Ono, Takuma Hiraoka and Yukito Nishii.

The film was released on Blu-ray on November 2013 courtesy of FUNimation.

“Wolf Children” begins with a narration by a young woman named Yuki who tells a story about her mother Hana and how she fell in love with a man named Ookami who was actually a wolf and can transform to human or wolf form. And despite his appearance, Hana accepted him for the way he is and loved him unconditionally.

Yuki and Ookami would eventually have two children and like father, they can also transform into a wolf.

Ookami and Hana were proud parents of Yuki and a son named Ame.  Yuki was always mischievous as a child.  Each time she would get frustrated or upset, her wolf characteristics would always come out.  While young Ame, was a baby at the time.

Ookami would usually hunt for food to feed his family, but one day, Ookami never came home.  As Hana with her two children along with her, she goes to look for Ookami and in the middle of a street is a dead wolf, who happened to be Ookami in wolf form.

And as Hana struggled to keep her children’s wolf existence a secret, the Japanese child protection service wanted to see the children because Hana never had them receive their immunization shots or had them seen by a doctor.

And because Ame was a baby, his crying would lead to complaints from the neighbors and their howling would eventually lead the landlord to believe that Hana was illegally having dogs in her home.

Wanting to protect her children and to get away from any trouble for her children, Hana Yuki and Ame move away from the city to live in the rural countryside and takes an old, dilapidated home that would be rent-free but would require renovation.  And to make things even better for Hana, no one lives close to her home.

And as Hana tries to raise her two children by herself, she tries to learn about how to repair her home, how to grow vegetables in her yard.  But to her surprise, her vegetables die from disease.  But her neighbors eventually come to help her grow crops.  But as Yuki has come to love her new environment, Ame doesn’t really like it.

Seen as weak by her sister, Ame wants to toughen up and during a cold snowy winter, he decides to go after a fish but instead, loses his footing in the moving river and nearly drowns but is rescued by Yuki in wolf form.  Feared to be dead, Ame is fine from his accident but from that day forth, because of that incident, he has grown.

Meanwhile, as Hana is older, her mother wants both children to grow up normally and enlists them in school, as long as they can keep their wolf transformation a secret.  Something that Hana is really looking forward to, unlike Ame who is not too interested in school.

And as Hana tries to fit in with the other humans, Ame starts to develop a closeness towards the countryside.  But as Hana has given her children some freedom, what happens when Ame is tested to hide her wolf-side from her classmates and what happens when Ame is not interested in going to school and is inspired by something out in the wilderness?

This is a story about a mother and her children and a coming-of-age story for both children through their years living with their mother.

VIDEO:

“Wolf Children” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1).  There are a few things that I must point out about this fantastic film when it comes to its look and character designs.  Despite having a Studio Ghibli flair, this is not a Studio Ghibli film.  This is a film that utilizes Mamoru Hosoda’s direction and writing, the character designs by Evangelion’s Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and a dedication to art especially backgrounds thanks to the crew of Studio Chizu.

The film is absolutely beautiful too look at.  Striving to have the same quality of Studio Ghibli films, the art background and detail of environments and objects is magnificent.

“Wolf Children” is colorful, vibrant and one can easily appreciate the film’s character designs but also its lush backgrounds with greenery of the countryside, blue skies or even the weather changes of the area outside of Hana’s home.

Contrast is strong, I detected no banding or artifacts.  “Wolf Children” looks amazing on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wolf Children” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and the lossless audio is quite impressive.  From the first half hour featuring the family in the city area and hearing cars passing by, there is good use of the surround channels for cars speeding by and the direction the audio pans for those scenes.  While the countryside captures the sounds of the streams, the wind, the rain and storm and more.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear and for both Japanese and English soundtracks, both are well-acted and I was quite pleased with the lossless audio soundtrack for both tracks.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wolf Children” features the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary  – FUNimation ADR director Mike McFarland interviewing voice talent Colleen Clinkenbeard, David Matranga, Alison Viktorin, Jad Saxton, Lara Woodhull and more.
  • June 18, 2012 – Japan Premiere– (16:02) Featuring a premiere in Japan with director Mamoru Hosoda, Aoi Miyazaki(voice of Hana), Takao Osawa (voice of Wolf Man), Amon Kabe (Child Ame), Yukito Nishii (Ame), Haru Kuroki (Yuki) and Momoka Ona (Child Yuki).
  • June 25, 2012 – World Premiere in Paris – (7:04) Featuring the world premiere in France with director Mamoru Hosoda and actress Aoi Miyazaki.
  • July 16, 2012 Theme Song Premiere & Stage Greetings – (9:55) Ann Sally and composer, Masakatsu Takagi, Mamoru Hosoda and Aoi Miyazaki.
  • July 21, 2012 Opening Day Stage Greetings – (17:19) Featuring Opening Day in Japan with director Mamoru Hosoda, Aoi Miyazaki(voice of Hana), Takao Osawa (voice of Wolf Man), Amon Kabe (Child Ame), Yukito Nishii (Ame), Haru Kuroki (Yuki) and Momoka Ona (Child Yuki).
  • August 7, 2012 “Hana’s Day” Appreciation Stage Greetings – (6:40) Featuring “Hana’s Day” appreciation with Aoi Miyazaki, Takao Osawa and director Mamoru Hosoda.

EXTRAS:

“Wolf Children” Blu-ray also comes with the DVD version and a slipcover.

A beautiful film from Mamoru Hosoda and the crew of Studio Chizu, once again Hosoda manages to deliver another beautiful and brilliant film.

For longtime viewers of animated films, there are too many banal films that come out in Japan but what you want to see are films that can have the same quality in visual presentation but also when it comes to storytelling and as always,  Studio Ghibli is a company that many other films from different studios are often compared to.

Almost similar to the U.S. when there is a CG animated film and often a response is how it compares to a Disney Pixar film, the same can be said to any Japanese animated film with high production quality. Is it as good as a Ghibli film?  And I happen to like this type of push because it inspires creativity but also better storytelling.

We have seen fimmakers such as Hosoda and Makoto Shinkai, two men who are dedicated in having a balance of beautiful imagery but also storytelling.  In fact, for Hosoda, what he has been able to accomplish in films such as “The Girl Who Leaped Through Time” and “Summer Wars” is the ability to add sci-fi elements combined with dramatic themes.

Similar to Studio Ghibli films (albeit not getting into the more deeper subjects that affect humanity or the planet which Miyazaki was always going for in order to send a message), for “Wolf Children” it’s first and foremost a film about nurture and nature.

A mother wanting to protect her wolf children from harm, but learning to give them the freedom to choose what side of life they are most comfortable living.

Children who were born with wolf characteristics but must hide it from the public and for Yuki, she is one to accept humanity and to live the life of a normal girl while trying to maintain her secret.  While Ame is not like his sister, not too thrilled about life in the country, not to thrilled to be among the other kids and just not fitting in.

But for Yuki, life as a student is made much more difficult when a boy who has moved to the area, wants to get close to her.  Meanwhile, for Ame, since exposing himself to hunting for fish and feeling comfortable as a wolf than a human, he loves being part of the wild.

And this begins a conundrum as Mother wants her children with her but knows deep inside that her children see life differently from each other.  And for Yuki, it’s one thing to hide her secret but she wants her younger brother to be human, while Ame wants Yuki to accept her wolf-side and not try to be so human.

It’s a fascinating conundrum and to see how things begin to spiral out of control for the family especially as wolf years versus human years are much different.  And a mother who has protected them from the beginning, knowing that her children are growing older and the idea of losing her children is very difficult for her to bare.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality for this film is fantastic.  A vibrant, colorful film with amazing detail on painted art backgrounds and an interesting style of character design from Evangelion’s Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, the film has a taste of classic Ghibli but also seeing how Studio Chizu’s focus of maintaining quality, this is a beautiful animated film with amazing detail and clarity.  The lossless audio is also wonderful with crystal clear dialogue and soundtrack, both English and Japanese soundtracks are great and they are both well-acted.

You also get an insightful audio commentary for the English dub soundtrack and several screening events for “Wolf Children” in Japan.

Overall, “Wolf Children” has turned out to be a magnificent, touching and gorgeous film on Blu-ray.  Mamoru Hosoda’s work has always been about quality, from its look but most importantly, the storytelling.  If you are looking for an animated film on Blu-ray, “Wolf Children” is highly recommended!

Michiko & Hatchin: The Complete Series – Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Michiko & Hatchin” is an anime series that is unique, action-packed and a type of series that you rarely see released in Japan, let alone being brought to America.  If you are looking for a more mature, violent type of anime series with a fascinating story, “Michiko & Hatchin” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Michiko Hatchin: The Complete Series – Part Two

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2008-2009

DURATION: Episodes 12-22 (320 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATING: M

Release Date: September 17, 2013

Directed by Sayo Yamamoto

Script by Takashi Ujita

Music by Kassin

Character Design by Hiroshi Shimizu

Art Director: Seiki Tamura

Anime Production: Studio Manglobe

Featuring the following voice talent:

Suzuka Ohgo/Jad Saxton as Hana “Hatchin” Morenos

Yoko Maki/Monica Rial as Michiko Malandro

Masaki Miura/Akron Watson as Satoshi Batista

Ken Mitsuishi/Brandon Potter as Ricardo Solo

Kanji Tsuda/Christopher Bevins as Hiroshi Morenos

Maki Sakai/Sametria Ewunes as Atsuko Jackson

Jun Murakami/Scott Freeman as Shinsuke Sasse Rodrigues

Every bend in the road hides an ambush as Michiko and Hatchin continue their mad dash to track down Hiroshi: a man from their past that could hold the key to their future. Hit men, kidnappers, and sadistic gangbangers fill their rearview mirror as these ladies on the lam burn rubber across the Latin landscape.

With the throttle wide open and their motorcycle pointed toward the ocean, Michiko and Hatchin defy fate by living freer than they’ve ever lived before. New friendships are forged, young love blooms, and the partners in crime inch ever closer to the man they seek. But just as the long-awaited reunion is about to become reality, the law closes in on them – leaving Michiko to face an agonizing decision that will change both of their lives forever.

The search for Hiroshi continues as Michiko continues to find her old flame, while Hatchin will be reunited with the father she never met.

But the road to finding Hiroshi has not been easy as others have been looking for him as well.

Will the two meet their goal of finding Hiroshi?  Find out in the conclusion of the series is in “Michiko & Hatchin – The Complete Series – Part Two”.

What is “Michiko & Hatchin” all about?

In 2008, the 22-episode anime series “Michiko & Hatchin” was aired on Fuji TV.

The original series is produced by studio Manglobe instead of hiring voice actresses, hired two film actresses, Yoko Maki (“The Grudge” and Suzuka Ohgo (“Memoirs of a Geisha”) to do the voices for the series.

The series is directed by Sayo Yamamoto (“Ergo Proxy”, “Texhnolyze”, “Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”), screenplay by Takashi Ujita, music by Kassin, character designs by Hiroshi Shimizu (“Bakmumatsu Gijinden Roman”, Kemonozume”, “Magic Tree House”) and art backgrounds by Seiki Tamura (“Attack on the Titan”, “Guilty Crown”, “K-ON!”, “Clannad”).

And now the series will be released in two parts on Blu-ray/DVD combo-pack courtesy of FUNimation.

“Michiko & Hatchin” is a series that takes place in a fictional country (a blend of Japan/Brazil).

The series begins with Michiko Malandro escaping from one of the most heavily guarded prisons.

We are first introduced to Hana “Hatchin” Morenos, a young girl who lives with a foster family. While one would think that living in a home for a pastor would be a good environment for Hatchin, the truth is that she is abused at home by the parents, her foster sister and foster brother. She doesn’t fight back, nor does she defend herself in worries that she won’t have a place to live, but her foster siblings are very cruel to her. She dreams that one day, her father will come back for her.

One day, Hatchin’s foster family receives a call from Michiko pretending to be her mother and that she would be arriving the next day to pick her up. Michiko ends up crashing into the home with her cycle and taking Hatchin and thus begins the story of “Michiko & Hatchin”.

The second part of “Michiko & Hatchin: The Complete Series” features the final eleven episodes. Here is a brief spoilerless summary of each episode:

  • EPISODE 12 – Michiko is sick and Hatchin tries to find someone who can treat her?
  • EPISODE 13 – Atsuko is demoted and reassigned to Ilha Azul and meets a girl named Vanessa Lee who reminds her of herself when she was young.
  • EPISODE 14 – Satoshi hires assassins to kill  Michiko, Atsuko and Shinsuke.
  • EPISODE 15 – What happens when Hatchin meets a boy who is unable to retain any short-term memory?
  • EPISODE 16 – Michiko and Hatchin reach a tomato plant in hopes to find Hiroshi.
  • EPISODE 17 – Hatchin is missing and Michiko goes to look for her.
  • EPISODE 18 – Michiko and Hatchin are in Sao Paraiso to visit a business associate of Hiroshi.
  • EPISODE 19 – Michiko and Hatchin take a freight train to Goinia in hopes of finding Hiroshi.  Meanwhile, Satoshi is not far behind.
  • EPISODE 20 – Satoshi tells Hatchin more about Hiroshi.
  • EPISODE 21 – Satoshi tries to get help from crime boss, Juninho in trying to find Hiroshi, but Juninho is also after Hiroshi.
  • EPISODE 22 – The conclusion of “Michiko & Hatchin” as the police closes in on the duo.

“Michiko & Hatchin” features the following characters:

  • Michiko Malandro – A woman who escaped prison and abducts Hana. She reveals to Hana that she knows her father Hiroshi and had fallen in love with him. She is searching for Hiroshi who supposedly died in a bus accident but she feels he is very much alive.
  • Hana “Hatchin” Morenos – A victim of abuse by her foster parents, she is hesitant to trust anyone and wished that someday someone would rescue her from the abusive home that she lived in. But when Michiko saves her, she has no idea who this woman is.
  • Hiroshi Morenos – Hana’s father and Michiko’s lover from the past. He is believed to be dead but Michiko believes he is alive. He shares a tattoo that Michiko has and Hana is supposedly to have as well on their stomachs.
  • Atsuko Jackson – Grew up with Michiko in the orphanage and is now a police officer responsible for arresting Michiko and putting her in prison 12 years ago. Is she an antagonist or a friend?
  • Satoshi Batista – A friend of Hiroshi who controls the crime syndicate “Monstro Preto”.

VIDEO:

“Michiko & Hatchin: The Complete Series – Part Two” is presented in 1080p High Definition. For the most part Studio Manglobe’s animation style with cool character design, well-shaded characters but also wonderfully detailed art backgrounds. Good use of CG for mechanical designs and overall a stylish series created in 2008-2009. I emphasize those years because I tend to have a timeline that anime series created after 2010, studios were much more serious about their series in HD from 2010 and on. So, there is a bit of softness in this series, but a lot of TV anime series do exhibit a bit of softness, so it’s OK. There is also some banding but once again, these things are typically evident in older series especially before 2010. cThe series is colorful, I like the use of environments, crashed vehicles and use of buildings in this fictional country that resembles Brazil.

But considering this is a 2008-2009 anime series, I’m content with the Blu-ray presentation.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Michiko & Hatchin: The Complete Series – Part Two” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The Japanese soundtrack is well-done and considering that the Japanese used real film actresses versus voice actresses was an interesting decision, but it no doubt brought attention to the series in Japan. Great acting when it comes to the more emotional scenes by the Japanese voice talent. But with that being said, the English dialogue has more of a rawness due to the characters. You expect a lot of profanity, you also expect better dynamic range due to the 5.1 soundtrack and that is where the English dub does sound better. The jazzy soundtrack and the dialogue are crystal clear and great use of the surround channels as well. But for the most part, both are well-acted and I have to say, this is probably the first time where I have heard Monica Rial playing a character with a lower voice versus the high-pitched voices that we have seen of her for many other series.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Michiko & Hatchin: The Complete Series – Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Episode 20 – Chris George (ADR Engineer) with Akron Watson (voice of Satoshi) and Jad Saxton (voice of Hatchin).
  • Audio Commentary – Episode 22 – Voice Director Christopher Bevins (and also voice of Hiroshi), Monica Rial (voice of Michiko) and Jad Saxton (voice of Hatchin).
  • Hatchin: The Girl We all Love – (15:53) Jad Saxton talks about her character Hatchin.
  • Special Interview(7:04) A special interview with  Suzuka Ohgo and Yoko Maki.
  • Original Commercials – Featuring the original Japanese TV commercials
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation theatrical trailer.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

Unique, different and action-packed, “Michiko & Hatchin” is an anime series that is rarely released in Japan.

And now “Michiko & Hatchin” concludes with the second part Blu-ray release courtesy of FUNimation.

Featuring an independent, strong and potty-mouth protagonist with a young child accompanying her, instead of going through a banal route of adult trying to protect the young all the time, both Michiko & Hatchin for the first half of the series are like oil and water.  But we saw them go through a lot of trouble and eventually, slowly they start to learn how much they had needed each other as they search for Hiroshi.

And now they are getting closer to finding Hiroshi, that is until his old buddy Satoshi puts a target on Michiko’s back and meanwhile Atsuko and the police are after them as well.  So, the search for Hiroshi is not necessarily going to be easy.

As Michiko tries to search for clues of Hiroshi and to see if he still loves her, Hatchin only hears stories about her father, as he was never around when she was younger.

But does she care if she sees her father?  Or does she care more about her time with Michiko who has been the motherly figure in their short time together, and a person who appears to give a damn about her.

Picture quality is good on Blu-ray but considering it’s an older 2008-2009 series, it does have softness and banding. As for the special features, you get two solid audio commentaries plus featurettes with Jad Saxton and a special interview with the Japanese cast and more. It’s also important to note that if this Blu-ray release came with any extra features, I am unable to comment as the version I am reviewing are the discs that FUNimation supplied to us.

But the final half of “Michiko & Hatchin” was no doubt a wild ride.  The series remained consistent of having an adult edge but also quite a bit of violence as well, as we get to see how sadistic Satoshi can be but also seeing some of the past revolving around Atsuko and how deadly things are going to be as Hiroshi is a wanted man and people are hoping Michiko or Hatchin will lead them to him.

For the most part, I’m quite content with how this series ended.  What was important was that it kept its consistency with humor, violence, music but also this storyline of the unknown as Michiko and Hatchin are on adventure to find Hiroshi but in this situation, they are mixed up with some major crime bosses and it has been a wild and crazy ride, but I respect this series for being unique and different from other anime series out there.

“Michiko & Hatchin” is an anime series that is unique, action-packed and a type of series that you rarely see released in Japan, let alone being brought to America.  If you are looking for a more mature, violent type of anime series with a fascinating story, “Michiko & Hatchin” is recommended!

Michiko & Hatchin: The Complete Series – Part One (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Michiko & Hatchin” is an anime series that is unique, action-packed and a type of series that you rarely see released in Japan.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Michiko Hatchin: The Complete Series – Part One

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2008-2009

DURATION: Episodes 1-11 (320 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATING: M

Release Date: September 17, 2013

Directed by Sayo Yamamoto

Script by Takashi Ujita

Music by Kassin

Character Design by Hiroshi Shimizu

Art Director: Seiki Tamura

Anime Production: Studio Manglobe

Featuring the following voice talent:

Suzuka Ohgo/Jad Saxton as Hana “Hatchin” Morenos

Yoko Maki/Monica Rial as Michiko Malandro

Masaki Miura/Akron Watson as Satoshi Batista

Ken Mitsuishi/Brandon Potter as Ricardo Solo

Kanji Tsuda/Christopher Bevins as Hiroshi Morenos

Maki Sakai/Sametria Ewunes as Atsuko Jackson

Jun Murakami/Scott Freeman as Shinsuke Sasse Rodrigues

Michiko is a stunning escaped convict with lethal looks and a deadly disrespect for the lawmen trying to hunt her down. Hatchin is a hapless orphan pushed to the breaking point by the sadistic spawn of her fiendish foster parents. On their own, these chicas are nothing more than a Yin searching for its Yang, but when fate – in the form of a mysterious hombre from their past – brings them together, the world better watch out!

With the future dead-ahead and la policia hot on their heels, Michiko and Hatchin burn rubber through exotic locals where danger lurks around every corner. It’s two against the world in this sun-soaked, Latin-tinged tale of partners in crime who won’t stop running till they chase down a dream.

In 2008, the 22-episode anime series “Michiko & Hatchin” was aired on Fuji TV.

The original series is produced by studio Manglobe instead of hiring voice actresses, hired two film actresses, Yoko Maki (“The Grudge” and Suzuka Ohgo (“Memoirs of a Geisha”) to do the voices for the series.

The series is directed by Sayo Yamamoto (“Ergo Proxy”, “Texhnolyze”, “Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”), screenplay by Takashi Ujita, music by Kassin, character designs by Hiroshi Shimizu (“Bakmumatsu Gijinden Roman”, Kemonozume”, “Magic Tree House”) and art backgrounds by Seiki Tamura (“Attack on the Titan”, “Guilty Crown”, “K-ON!”, “Clannad”).

And now the series will be released in two parts on Blu-ray/DVD combo-pack courtesy of FUNimation.

“Michiko & Hatchin” is a series that takes place in a fictional country (a blend of Japan/Brazil).

The series begins with Michiko Malandro escaping from one of the most heavily guarded prisons.

We are first introduced  to Hana “Hatchin” Morenos, a young girl who lives with a foster family.  While one would think that living in a home for a pastor would be a good environment for Hatchin, the truth is that she is abused at home by the parents, her foster sister and foster brother.  She doesn’t fight back, nor does she defend herself in worries that she won’t have a place to live, but her foster siblings are very cruel to her.  She dreams that one day, her father will come back for her.

One day, Hatchin’s foster family receives a call from Michiko pretending to be her mother and that she would be arriving the next day to pick her up.   Michiko ends up crashing into the home with her cycle and taking Hatchin and thus begins the story of “Michiko & Hatchin”.

The first part of “Michiko & Hatchin: The Complete Series” features the first eleven episodes.  Here is a brief spoilerless summary of each episode:

  • EPISODE 1 – Michiko Malandro breaks out of prison and an introduction to Hana Morenos, who lives with an abusive family.
  • EPISODE 2 – Michiko is a wanted person for abducting Hana and in pursuit of Michiko is a police sergeant who knows Michiko quite well!  The history of Michiko and the police sergeant, Atsuko Jackson
  • EPISODE 3 – Michiko & Hatchin end up in Sao Cabal and Michiko consults with a fortune teller in her search for Hiroshi.
  • EPISODE 4 – Michiko is summoned at gunpoint and must see Rico, the local favela boss.  Meanwhile, a woman named Pepe wants to meet with Hachiko and Hatchin.
  • EPISODE 5 – Michiko visits her old friend Ivan to find out if he can help her find Satoshi, who may know where Hiroshi is.
  • EPISODE 6 – Hatchin is missing and Michiko goes to look for her.
  • EPISODE 7 – Michiko’s motorbike has broken down and the two are stranded in a rural area.
  • EPISODE 8 – Michiko and Hatchin arrive in Osso and the two get into a heated argument.
  • EPISODE 9 – Hatchin who has ditched Michiko ends up in the town of Perna and meets a girl named Rita.
  • EPISODE 10 – Satoshi tracks down Manabe and takes his family hostage.
  • EPISODE 11 – As Hatchin is adjusting with life without Michiko, she starts to learn that something is not right with the circus.

“Michiko & Hatchin” features the following characters:

  • Michiko Malandro – A woman who escaped prison and abducts Hana.  She reveals to Hana that she knows her father Hiroshi and had fallen in love with him. She is searching for Hiroshi who supposedly died in a bus accident but she feels he is very much alive.
  • Hana “Hatchin” Morenos – A victim of abuse by her foster parents, she is hesitant to trust anyone and wished that someday someone would rescue her from the abusive home that she lived in. But when Michiko saves her, she has no idea who this woman is.
  • Hiroshi Morenos – Hana’s father and Michiko’s lover from the past.  He is believed to be dead but Michiko believes he is alive.  He shares a tattoo that Michiko has and Hana is supposedly to have as well on their stomachs.
  • Atsuko Jackson – Grew up with Michiko in the orphanage and is now a police officer responsible for arresting Michiko and putting her in prison 12 years ago.  Is she an antagonist or a friend?
  • Satoshi Batista – A friend of Hiroshi who controls the crime syndicate “Monstro Preto”.

VIDEO:

“Michiko & Hatchin: The Complete Series – Part One” is presented in 1080p High Definition. For the most part Studio Manglobe’s animation style with cool character design, well-shaded characters but also wonderfully detailed art backgrounds.  Good use of CG for mechanical designs and overall a stylish series created in 2008-2009.  I emphasize those years because I tend to have a timeline that anime series created after 2010, studios were much more serious about their series in HD from 2010 and on.  So, there is a bit of softness in this series, but a lot of TV anime series do exhibit a bit of softness, so it’s OK.   There is also some banding but once again, these things are typically evident in older series especially before 2010.  cThe series is colorful, I like the use of environments, crashed vehicles and use of buildings in this fictional country that resembles Brazil.

But considering this is a 2008-2009 anime series, I’m content with the Blu-ray presentation.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Michiko Hatchin: The Complete Series – Part One” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The Japanese soundtrack is well-done and considering that the Japanese used real film actresses versus voice actresses was an interesting decision, but it no doubt brought attention to the series in Japan.  Great acting when it comes to the more emotional scenes by the Japanese voice talent.  But with that being said, the English dialogue has more of a rawness due to the characters.  You expect a lot of profanity, you also expect better dynamic range due to the 5.1 soundtrack and that is where the English dub does sound better. The jazzy soundtrack and the dialogue are crystal clear and great use of the surround channels as well.   But for the most part, both are well-acted and I have to say, this is probably the first time where I have heard Monica Rial playing a character with a lower voice versus the high-pitched voices that we have seen of her for many other series.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Michiko & Hatchin: The Complete Series – Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Episode 01 – Voice Director Christopher Bevins (and also voice of Hiroshi), Monica Rial (voice of Michiko) and Jad Saxton (voice of Hatchin).
  • Audio Commentary – Episode 02 – Voice Director Christopher Bevins (and also voice of Hiroshi), Monica Rial (voice of Michiko) and Sametria Ewunes (voice of Atsuko).
  • Michiko: The Woman Behind it All – (14:56) English dub voice actress Monica Rial talks about the character of Michiko and her relation to Hatchin and more.
  • Unveiling Press Conference(10:47) The Japanese press conference for “Michiko & Hatchin” featuring director Sayo Yamamoto, Suzuka Ohgo, Yoko Maki and Maki Sakai.
  • Live Action Promo Video – (00:32) Featuring a live action (featuring the Japanese voice actresses: Suzuka Ohgo, Yoko Maki and Maki Sakai.) and anime promo for “Michiko & Hatchin”.
  • Anime Promo Video – (1:49) The Japanese animated PV for “Michiko & Hatchin”.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

Unique, different and action-packed, “Michiko & Hatchin” is an anime series that is rarely released in Japan.

Featuring an independent, strong and potty-mouth protagonist with a young child accompanying her, instead of going through a banal route of adult trying to protect the young all the time, both Michiko & Hatchin for the first half of the series are like oil and water.

While Michiko has abducted and also protects the young Hatchin, the problem for Hatchin are Michiko’s immoral and selfish lifestyle.  She steals whenever its convenient and she’s not necessarily a good influence as she talks about sex and also profanity in front of Hatchin.  And thus, it begins a relationship where both are constantly bickering with each other and Hatchin ditching Michiko because she can’t stand how she behaves, but also acting impulsively because she has no money and not sure how she is going to survive without her.

For now, the first half of “Michiko & Hatchin” are introductory episodes. Introduction to Michiko, Hatchin, Atsuko, Satoshi and also getting a little glimpse of Hiroshi and Michiko and more!

Picture quality is good on Blu-ray but considering it’s an older 2008-2009 series, it does have softness and banding.  As for the special features, you get two solid audio commentaries plus featurettes with Monica Rial but also the opening press conference of the Japanese announcement of the series and more.  It’s also important to note that if this Blu-ray release came with any extra features, I am unable to comment as the version I am reviewing are the discs that FUNimation supplied to us.

But so far, judging from the first eleven episodes, “Michiko & Hatchin” is a fun series, definitely much more mature courtesy of the profanity and sexual dialogue but also for the violence.  Despite a series featuring an adult and a young girl, this is not an anime series for children to watch.

“Michiko & Hatchin” is an anime series that is unique, action-packed and a type of series that you rarely see released in Japan.  Recommended!

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