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The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Season One – Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

 If you are looking for a fun anime series that is more gag-based with wild & crazy antics coming from each of the characters of the series, “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Season One – Part One” is recommended.

Image courtesy of © 2017 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Season One – Part One

DURATION: (12 Episodes) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: PG

Release Date: December 26, 2017


Originally Created by Shuichi Aso

Directed by Hiroaki Sakurai

Series Composition: Michiko Yokote

Music by Psychic Lover

Character Design: Masayuki Onji

Anime Production: EGG FIRM, J.C. STAFF


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroshi Kamiya/Jerry Jewell as Kusuo Saiki

Ai Kayano/Tia Ballard as Kokomi Teruhashi

Daisuke Ono/David Wald as Riki Nendō

Haruka Tomatsu/Jamie Marchi as Kusuko Saiki (Female Form)

Kenji Nojima/Chris Patton as Kūsuke Saiki

Maaya Uchida/Megan Shipman as Chisato Mera

Masaya Matsukaze as Saiko Metori

Mitsuo Iwata/Chuck Huber as Kuniharu Saiki

Natsuki Hanae/Joel McDonald as Reita Toritsuka

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Micah Solusod as Shun Kaidō

Rikako Aikawa/Morgan Garrett as Kurumi Saiki

Satoshi Hino/Kyle Phillips as Kineshi Hairo

Showtaro Morikubo/Austin Tindle as Uryoku Chōno

Tomoaki Maeno as Makoto Teruhashi/Tōru Mugami

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Jarrod Greene as Aren Kuboyasu

Yukari Tamura/Jill Harris as Chiyo Yumehara


Saiki Kusuo is your typical 16-year-old high school student, except for one thing—he’s got psychic powers. Incredible ones. In fact, he’s so powerful, he could probably rule the world if he wanted to. Don’t be mistaken though, it’s really not as great as it sounds. After all, you wouldn’t want to hear the weird things people think or all the spoilers they know! And surprise parties? Forget about ’em.

No, this psychic genius is all about keeping a low profile. But high school isn’t about to let that happen. His quirky classmates and embarrassing parents just can’t leave him alone! He’s got the world at his fingertips, but the one thing he’ll never get…is a break.


Back in 2012, mangaka Shuichi Aso wrote and illustrated his gag manga series “Saiki Kusuo no Sai-nan” (The Disaster of Psi Kusuo Saiki).  The series received a serialization in Shueisha’s “Weekly Shonen Jump” and a total of 23 manga volumes have been published.

The popularity of the manga series would eventually ensure an anime TV series in 2016 and since then a total of 24-compilation episodes have been released and each episode featuring six short episodes.

And now the series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation titled “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.”.  And will be released in two parts, each release featuring 12-episodes each.

The series is produced by J.C. Staff and EGG FIRM and is directed by Hiroaki Sakurai and written by Michiko Yokote.

The series revolves around Kusuo Saiki, a high school student who was born with psychic abilities and lives with his parents Kuniharu (a father who keeps sucking up to his employers) and his mother Kurumi (who can get very scary when her husband and son defy her).  Kusuo also has an older brother named Kusuke, who wears a “Telepath Canceler” on his head, so Kusuo can never read his thoughts.  But the two often argue of who is more intelligent, the psi user or the the intellectual inventor.

While his parents are normal humans but crazy, they accepted Saiki’s abilities for his special abilties.  Even though he was born reading and teleporting and being mature during the first year of his life as an infant.

As Kusuo became a teenager, he now wears two pink antennas on his head to limit his growing powers.  He has to wear glasses at all times to prevent people from turning into stone.   He never talks to anyone with his lips, he communicates telepathically.

And because he can hear everyone’s thoughts, his special abilities have given him misery and he tries to avoid any attention because he is a psychic.  He tries…

But somehow at P.K. Academy, he attracts the weirdest people.

  • Riki Nendo is a large and muscular student but very stupid.  So dumb that Kusuo can’t read his mind and it frustrates Kusuo because he can’t predict Nendo’s actions.
  • Shun Kaido is a know-it-all, conspiracy-loving person who calls himself “The Jet-Black Wings” and believes that the world is ruled by an evil organization known as Dark Reunion.
  • Kokomi Teruhashi is a girl who glows and considers herself “perfect” except by Saiki (who can read heer thoughts).  She is obsessed with tryin gto get Saiki to react to her, which he doesn’t.  And so it leads to her obsession towards him.
  • Kineshi Hairo is an energetic, sports-loving student who loves to motivate people.
  • Chiyo Yumehara – A romantic who always has painful experiences with guys.  She has a crush on Kusuo.
  • Reita Toritsuka – A psychic aware of Kusuo’s abilities.  He can see spirits and is haunted by the ghost of Nendo’s late father.

Will Kusuo be able to find a way to stay under the radar and not attract attention?


VIDEO:

“The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are extremely detailed. Character designs are well-done and is respectful to Shuichi Aso’s manga series.  Background art is also well-painted for outdoor scenes but primarily the artwork is more focused on the characters and close-ups.  I didn’t notice any banding issues while watching the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Featuring crystal clear dialogue and music, the series sounds good.  Surround channels is used sparsely, mainly for action sequences but it’s primarily a dialogue-driven soundtrack.  Both Japanese and English voice acting are well done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Season One – Part 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Jerry Jewell (voice of Kusuo Saiki), Micah Solusod (voice of Shun Kaido) and David Wald (voice of Riki Nendo).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song

I first discovered “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.” when I first played the video game “J-Stars Victory Vs.”.  I was curious about seeing this character with pink hair with antennas and he didn’t look like your typical Jump protagonist.

Fastforward a few years later and I finally got a chance to view the anime series and realized it’s probably one of the craziest mainstream Jump-related anime series I have seen.

The anime series revolves around a boy born with special abilities and because he can hear everyone’s thoughts, because he sees everyone past their true appearance and his powers can really endanger society, he tries to keep away from people and stay under the radar.

But unfortunately, it’s not that easy.  Because he’s so aloof and quiet, he’s attracting the weirdest people at his high school and because he doesn’t give attention to the girls, a few of them have started to fall in love with Kusuo.

As for the series, these are episodes that contain six mini-stories each.  Some of them are continuations of each other but for the most part, these are episodes where Saiki has to use his powers for the greater good, well more often for his benefit in trying to drive people away from him.

But a typical episode would be like this.  For episode 11, the episode begins with a boy named Yuuta who believes Saiki is the superhero Ciderman No. 2 after seeing him use his special abilities, the next episode is about Kuniharu showing Saiki around his job at a manga editorial office, the next story features Yuuta and his family becoming Saiki’s new neighbor, the next episode features Saiki going to the summer festival and seeing one of the guys in school get pickpocketed, he becomes the next person to be robbed.  And in another episode, Kokomi and Chiyo meet each other and both wonder if the other likes Saiki.

These episodes are quite short at around four minutes each, but I enjoy the fact that each of these episodes explore the characters even more.  And yes, this is the first half of the series and character dynamics are important, but I did like how these stories build upon character introductions and mannerisms.  And to explore how crazy each of the characters are.

It’s a fun anime series so far and I look forward to watching and seeing how the anime series progresses.

The series looks vibrant and colorful on Blu-ray and the dialogue is crystal clear.  You get one audio commentary track and the opening and ending theme.

Overall, if you are looking for a fun anime series that is more gag-based with wild & crazy antics coming from each of the characters of the series, “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Season One – Part One” is recommended.

Puzzle & Dragons X Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Puzzle & Dragons X” is an anime series that will entertain anime fans who ware looking for a good-natured anime series that will entertain the family but also an anime series that will no doubt satisfy fans of the popular Nintendo 3DS video game.

Image courtesy of © Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Puzzle & Dragons Part X Part One

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: Japanese and English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: September 26, 2017


Director: Hajime Kamegaki

Series Composition: Dai Sato

Music by Kousuke Yamashita

Character Design: Yukiko Akiyama

Art Director: Akihito Ougiyama, Masanobu Nomura

Art Design: Toshiki Amada

Anime Production: Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Chika Sakamoto/Tia Ballard as Devi

Takuto Yoshinaga/Josh Grelle as Ace

Tetsuya Kakihara/Justin Briner as Lance

Tomoko Kaneda/Alexis Tipton as Tamazō

Akeno Watanabe/Jamie Marchi as Herriot

Anri Katsu/Clifford Chapin as Tiger

Aya Hisakawa/Sara Ragsdale as Rena

Chisa Yokoyama/Greg Ayres as Sturgeon Jr.

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Stephen Sanders as Donny

Junko Minagawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Dafnes

Keiji Himeno as Yamaki

Marina Inoue/Dawn M. Bennett as Hal

Minoru Inaba/Charles Campbell as Vahaton

Miyuki Sawashiro/Monica Rial as Morgan

Takahiro Mizushima/Micah Solusod as Torlie

Tomokazu Sugita/Ian Sinclair as Nyudo

Wakana Yamazaki/Trina Nishimura as Eldora


Ace is an average boy until he hears his name being called by a mysterious egg. The egg leads him to discover the existence of Dragon Callers, humans who tame monsters into allies in their fight against evil. Does this average boy have what it takes to become one?


In 2012, Japanese video game company GungHo Online Entertainment created “Puzzle & Dragons” for the iOS, Android and Kindle Fire.

The company would follow up with the game “Puzzle & Dragons X” (pronounced as “Puzzle & Dragons Cross”) for the Nintendo 3DS.  But to help promote the game, an anime adaptation was released a few weeks earlier by anime studio, Pierrot.

With a total of 66 episodes created and is still ongoing in Japan, “Puzzle & Dragons X” has been released on Blu-ray/DVD in North America with the first 13 episodes included in Part One of “Puzzle & Dragons X”.

The setting of “Puzzle & Dragons X” is in the land of Dragonzola and there are those destined to become Dragon Callers, mediators between humanity and nature.

The Dragon Callers can tame powerful monsters and control them through the use of Drops.  One day, the great dragon caller known as King disappeared and no one has heard of him since.

But his child Ace wants to become the best Dragon Caller but he has a long way to go.  One day he discovers an egg and it happens to be a tamadra known as Tamazo.  Thought to be extinct, the only other tamadra is the arrogant yet loyal Devi, the partner of Lance, a mysterious and uncaring draganoid, who is on a mission.

When Ace starts to show he can control drops, he makes the decision to go on a journey to become a Dragon Caller and learn how to summon dragons and one day pass the training in order to become a Guild Dragon caller.

Along the way, he meets Charo, a man who keeps information on monsters and in-battle occurrences but also wanting to become a Dragon Caller.  A lot of people thinks he is a girl but he is actually a boy and together with Ace, they want to grow stronger.

And to their annoyance, they are sometimes accompanied by a Dragon Caller named Garnet, who is stubborn but yet dreams of becoming an idol.

Will Ace & Charo pass the test and become Guild Dragon Callers?


VIDEO:

“Puzzle & Dragon X” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  The animation is vibrant and colorful.  Animation is well-done for this children’s anime series and for the most part, I saw no signs of artifacts or banding.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Puzzle & DragonX” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.   The English soundtrack has a 5.1 soundtrack, while the Japanese has lossless stereo but for the most part, the lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Puzzle & Dragons X” comes with clean opening and ending themes.

EXTRAS:

“Puzzle & Dragons X” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


When it comes to anime series that are adaptations from a video game, you have your good series and your bad.  With the popularity of “Puzzle & Dragons”, the popularity of the Nintendo 3DS video game has no doubt lent to the popularity of the series in Japan.

With colorful characters and cute dragons, there is no doubt that many people had made comparisons to “Pokemon” and while the premise are almost the similar, with Pokemon about one wanting to become the best Pokemon trainer and going on adventures to become stronger and better, the same can be said with “Puzzle & Dragons X” as Ace wants to become the best Dragon Caller and goes on adventures with numerous people.

The main difference is that there are mysterious characters and powerful Dragon Callers who assist or guide Ace and friends to become better and lead them on a path to hopefully pass their exam to become Guild Dragon Callers.  But it’s not going to be easy as Ace along with Tamazo and Charo will need to learn a lot with their interactions with people and find ways to be better.

So far, the first 13 episodes are entertaining and while rated TV PG, the series is no doubt an anime series targeted for children.  You have battles (instead of monsters vs. monsters, you often see people battling each other with their monsters and unlike Pokemon, the Dragon Caller can get hurt) and you have rude monsters but for the most part, there is nothing about this series that parents should worry too much about as the series is good-natured.

The anime series is vibrant and colorful on Blu-ray and lossless soundtrack is well-acted for both the English dub and the Japanese soundtrack.  Unfortunately, there are no significant special features than the banal textless opening and closing songs.

Overall, “Puzzle & Dragons X” is an anime series that will entertain anime fans who ware looking for a good-natured anime series that will entertain the family but also an anime series that will no doubt satisfy fans of the popular Nintendo 3DS video game.

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!

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.

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

September 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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For those wanting a dark, violent and action-packed anime series, “Tokyo Ghoul: The Complete Series” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Tokyo Ghoul: The Complete Series

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080pHigh Definition, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: Suggested 17 and Up

Release Date: September 22, 2015


Originally Created by Sui Ishida

Directed by Shuhei Morita

Series Composition by Chuji Mikasano

Screenplay by Chuji Mikasano

Music by Yutaka Yamada

Character Design by Kazuhiro Miwa

Anime Production by Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Natsuki Hanae/Ken Kaneki as Ken Kaneki

Sora Amamiya/Brina Palencia as Tōka Kirishima

Ayahi Takagaki/Jamie Marchi as Itori

Kana Hanazawa/Monica Rial as Rize Kamishiro

Katsuyuki Konishi/Mike McFarland as Kōtarō Amon

Mamoru Miyano/J. Michael Tatum as Shū Tsukiyama

Rintarou Nishi/Christopher R. Sabat as Jason

Shintarō Asanuma/Eric Vale as Nishiki Nishio

Sumire Morohoshi/Lara Woodhull as Hinami Fueguchi

Takahiro Sakurai/Aaron Roberts as Uta

Takayuki Sugo/Sean Hennigan as Yoshimura

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Clifford Chapin as Hideyoshi Nagachika

Yūichi Nakamura/Phil Parsons as Renji Yomo


In modern day Tokyo, society lives in fear of Ghouls: mysterious creatures who look exactly like humans, yet hunger insatiably for their flesh. None of this matters to Ken Kaneki, a bookish and ordinary young man, until a dark and violent encounter turns him into the first ever Ghoul-human half breed. Trapped between two worlds, Ken must survive the violent conflicts of warring Ghoul factions, while attempting to learn more about Ghoul society, his newfound powers, and the fine line between man and monster.


Back in 2011, Sui Ishida created the hit manga series “Tokyo Ghoul” which was featured on Shueisha’s “Weekly Young Jump”.

In 2014, a 12-episode anime series adaptation by studio Pierrot aired on Tokyo MX, followed by a second season featuring 12-episodes titled “Tokyo Ghoul √A“, which is an original story which aired in Japan from Jan. through March 2015.

And now the first season of “Tokyo Ghoul” will be released by FUNimation in Sept. 2015.

The anime series is directed by Shuhei Morita (“Coicent”, “Possessions”) and features a screenplay by Chuji Mikasano.  Music composition is by Yutaka Yamada and character designs are by Kazuhiro Miwa (who worked in key animation for series such as “Bleach”, “Eureka Seven”, “Tokyo Majin”).

Set in Tokyo, Japan, the story of “Tokyo Ghoul” is set during a time when many mysterious and grizzly murders are happening throughout Japan due to monsters known as ghouls.

Monsters known as “Ghouls” like to eat human flesh and have the ability to change themselves to look human.

We are introduced to college students, Ken Kaneki and his friend Hide.

Kaneki is a big fan of horror novels and he often goes to a cafe to see another girl named Rize Kamishiro who likes horror novels.  And because of their similar taste in authors, the two go out on their first date.

And while the date is going very well, things suddenly take a turn when Rize reveals herself to be a ghoul.

Taking a bite out of Kaneki and impaling him and preparing for the final kill, out of nowhere, a metal beam falls from above and crushes Rize.

As the two are taken to the doctor, the doctor avoids waiting for family donors and takes Rize’s organs and transplants it into Kaneki.

As Kaneki heals and is lucky to be alive, he begins to notice that every food he eats and tastes is terrible.  He can’t understand why until he learns that ghouls have that similar problem and he knows that the only way to satisfy his hunger is to kill and eat human flesh, which he will never do, as he intends to maintain his humanity.

He realizes that he has become a ghoul (with one eye showing that he is a ghoul), while he also is human.  But he thirsts for eating humans but rather not do that.

As other ghouls taunt him for his weakness and his inability to eat humans, one ghoul starts to threaten Hide, Ken’s best friend.

What will Ken do about it?


 

VIDEO:

“Tokyo Ghoul” is presented in 1080p High Definition and for the most part, studio Pierrot has done a fine job with the anime adaptation of Sui Ishida’s series.  Characters and environments are well-shaded, but for the most part, the violence of the series is captured including the emotion of a character’s face.  The series tends to utilize a lot of closeups, but for the most part, background art well-detailed.  I didn’t notice any major artifacts during my viewing of the series or any major banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Tokyo Ghoul” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  While the voice talent on the Japanese end is well-done, watching it in English, I have to say that voice actor Austin Tindle did a magnificent job playing Ken Kaneki.  Kaneki has to go through a lot of emotions each episode, especially the final episode of season 1, it required tremendous emotion from the character and Tindle delivered!  But the English dub is well-done!

While dialogue and music are crystal clear, there are moments that utilize the surround channels.  But for the most part, the most memorable in terms of the lossless audio are the more emotional moments (as there are plenty), because this series gets uber-violent!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tokyo Ghoul: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 4 Commentary – Featuring commentary by ADR Director Mike McFarland, voice talent Austin Tindle (voice of Kaneki), Brina Palencia (voice of Kirishima) and J. Michael Tatum (voice of Tsukiyama).
  • Kaneki in Black and White – (27:42) ADR Director Mike McFarland, Assistant Director J. Michael Tatum (voice of Tsukiyama), voice talent Austin Tindle (voice of Kaneki), Brina Palencia (voice of Kirishima) discuss their characters and the series.
  • Episode 12 Commentary – Featuring commentary by ADR Director Mike McFarland, voice talent Monica Rial (voice of Rize), Austin Tindle (voice of Kaneki) and Christopher R. Sabat (voice of Yamori).
  • Japanese Commercials – (2:12) The original Japanese TV commercials for “Tokyo Ghoul”.
  • Promotional Videos – (2:34) Japanese promotional video for “Tokyo Ghoul”.
  • Preview Collection – (6:22) A hilarious collection of “next episode” previews (in Japanese with English subtitles).
  • U.S. Trailer
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Tokyo Ghoul: The Complete Series” comes with both Blu-ray and DVD discs for the first season.


 

Having read Sui Ishida’s manga series, “Tokyo Ghoul” is no doubt a violent, action-packed anime series that was well-adapted by studio Pierrot.

Featuring all emotion and violence of the manga series and magnified by terrific voice acting by both Natsuki Hanae and Austin Tindle (the Japanese and English dub voice actor for Kaneki), they really did a magnificent job of bring the character of Kaneki alive and it’s what makes the anime series truly work!

The series revolves around teenager Ken Kaneki who falls for a girl named Rize, who happens to be a ghoul.  She wants to devour him, takes a bite and as she is about to kill him, steel beams fall on both of them.  While Rize is dead, Kaneki is saved by a doctor who transplants Rize’s organs into Kaneki and thus turning him into a One-eyed Ghoul.

But as Kaneki tries to keep his humanity and thinking that Ghoul’s are just savage monsters, he befriends a few Ghouls who take him in, understands his hunger for human blood but also understanding his unwillingness to accept being a Ghoul and not wanting to be like them.

But the more he hangs out with the Ghoul’s, the more he stars to learn about the Doves, humans that are no different from savage ghouls that want to eliminate all ghouls.

The first season is a perfect introduction to the characters but also showing us how Kaneki is throughout every major moment after being turned into a ghoul.  For the most part, he is a whiny, good boy.  But when he is put into the situation of trying to make choices of using his ghoul powers, his fear and unwillingness to turn into a ghoul ends up being a detriment to others.

And things start to go downhill for him, unless he makes the decision to accept what he has become.

The series requires Kaneki to become emotional and that is where having the right voice talent becomes important.  And while the Japanese soundtrack features great voice acting, because I prefer a 5.1 lossless track, I went with FUNimation’s English dub soundtrack and Austin Tindle, Brina Palencia, J. Michael Tatum and Monica Rial did a magnificent job.  While the series is not super-immersive via the lossless soundtrack, the soundtrack is crystal clear when it comes to dialogue and music.

In terms of picture quality, studio Pierrot did a very good job as characters are well-animated, art backgrounds are detailed.  But for the most part, the anime series does a good job of complimenting Sui Ishida’s original manga series.

As for the special features, you get two audio commentaries with the ADR Director and English voice dub talent, a video interview with the voice talent and ADR director and also the Japanese commercials and previews.

It’s important to emphasize that this anime series is very violent and those who do not like dark or bloody anime series may want to be aware of that.

Overall, for those wanting a dark, violent and action-packed anime series, “Tokyo Ghoul: The Complete Series” is highly recommended!

High School DxD: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Review)

August 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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“High School DxD: The Series” is a mature and perverted anime series that screams “boobylicious” and may not be for everyone.  But if you have been fans of FUNimation’s more mature anime titles such as “Heaven’s Lost Property”, “Sekirei” and “Freezing”, fans of anime series with a lecherous protagonist, many well-endowed female characters and plenty of fan service will surely enjoy the wacky, hilarious but action-packed “High School DxD”!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: High School DxD: The Complete Series

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 5.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATING: TV-MA

Release Date: August 20, 2013

Originally Created by Ichiel Ishibumi

Directed by Tetsuya Yanagisawa

Series Composition by Takao Yoshioka

Music by Ryosuke Nakanishi

Art Director: Shigemi Ikeda

Anime Production: TNK

Featuring the following voice talent:

Yōko Hikasa/Jamie Marchi as Rias Gremory

Yuuki Kaji/Scott Freeman as Issei Hyōdō

Ayana Taketatsu/Jad Saxton as Koneko Tōjō

Azumi Asakura/Chloe Daniels as Asia Argento

Fumihiko Tachiki/Christopher R. Sabat as Sacred Gear/Ddraig

Hitomi Nabatame/Felecia Angelle as Yuuma Amano

Kenji Nojima/Sean O’Connor as Yūto Kiba

Saori Seto/Krishna Smitha as Grayfia Lucifuge

Shizuka Itou/Teri Rogers as Akeno Himejima

Takehito Koyasu/Christopher Smith as Raizer Phoenix

A war between heaven and hell is raging on Earth – and a hot mess of hormonal fury is raging in Issei’s pants. The guy is dying to get some action. Which is funny, since his first date ever turns into a winged monster and tries to kill him. Fortunately, ridiculously curvy redhead Rias comes to his rescue. She’s president of The Occult Research Club, a club that doesn’t actually research the occult. They ARE the occult – and Rias is a Devil.

Rias takes Issei as a more-than-willing slave and begins training him to use magic in battle against the Fallen Angels, the long-time enemies of Devils everywhere. If Issei can improve his mystical skills, he’ll be able to help his hotter-than-hell master and her scorching supernatural schoolgirl friends defeat their foes. Even better, he might end up with a few sexy slaves of his own.

In 2008, Ichiei Ishibumi and illustrator Miyama-Zero worked on the Japanese light novel series “High School DxD” serialized in Fujimi Shobo’s “Dragon Magazine” which is still ongoing in Japan.

A manga adaptation of “High School DxD” would be printed in “Monthly Dragon Age” and an anime adaptation followed in 2012 courtesy of TNK and aired on AT-X.  And now, “High School DxD: The Series” will be released on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of FUNimation in August 2013.

The mature harem anime series is directed by Tetsuya Yanagisawa (“Aoi Sekai no Chushin de”, “Heaven’s Lost Property”, “UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie”), series composition by Takao Yoshioka (“DearS”, “Rave Master”, “Happy Lesson”, “Freezing”), music by “Ryosuke Nakanishi (“D.C. III ~Da Capo III”, “Kuroko’s Basketball”), Junji Goto (“School Days”, “Ikki Tosen: Xtreme Xecutor”) and art direction by Shigemi Ikeda (“Bastard!!”, “Basilisk”, “El-Hazard: The Wanderer”, “Gantz”).

The mature anime series begins with Issei Hyodo and his perverted friends at Kuoh Academy trying to catch a peek of the female students and talking perverted about them.

One day, a beautiful girl named Yuma Amano asks Issei out for date and as Issei tries to show off to everyone that he has a hot girlfriend that is well-endowed, as the two go to the park, she asks him if he’ll do anything for her.

When she elaborates what she means by that, she means “would he die for her”?  Taken back by the question, Issei is not so sure why she would ask that but she reveals herself to be a fallen angel named Raynare and kills him.

Alone and dead at the park, he sees a summoning card and Rias Gremory comes to save him.

The following morning, Issei wakes up with a naked woman in his bed and it is Rias.  Shocked to see a live, naked woman in his bed, she explains to him that he has died but brought back as a demon and according to the deal that they made in giving his life back, he must be her pawn and do whatever she says.

But Issei’s life changes that very minute as his mother catches him on top of a naked Rias, people in school sees him around Rias and once seen as a perverted geek, Issei suddenly becomes well-known in school.

As Rias introduces Issei to the Occult Research Club and meeting other demons such as Kanako Toujo and Akeno Himejima, he is given a Sacred Gear during a battle with another Fallen Angel and learns that fallen angels are quite evil.

He ends up helping a nun named Asia Argento and both become friends despite him being a demon, but this friendship is not going to be taken lightly by the Fallen Angels who seem to want Asia Argento for some reason.

With this newfound power and life, can the perverted Issei Hyodo defend and fight for the people he loves.  And will he be able to satisfy his perverted urges when he is around Rias?

The characters of “High School DxD” are:

  • Issei Hyodo – The main protagonist and an uber-pervert.  A second-year student at Kuoh Academy who is killed after going on a date with a demon posing as a student.    Because he is saved by Rias and turned into a demon, he becomes a member of the Occult Research Club and becomes a low-ranked Pawn working for Rias.   His goal is to be a high-ranking demon, so he can have his own harem of women being his pawns that will do what he wants.
  • Risa Gremory – A third year student who is a powerful demon that comes from the Gremory Family.  Known as the Crimons-haired Ruin Princess and the Princess of Destruction.
  • Asia Argento – A nun that Issei meets and befriends.  A Holy Maiden that enjoys her time and friendship with Issei and is pure at heart.
  • Akeno Himejima – The second-in-Command of the Gremory Group and is known as the “Priestess of Thunder” and is the Vice-President of the Occult Research Club.  She is a high-ranked Queen.
  • Koneko Toujou – A first year student at Koh Academy who dresses up as a loli.  She is a “Rook” and is extremely strong and quick.  Rarely shows any emotion.
  • Yuto Kiba – A swordsman who is a Knight of the Occult Research Club.  He is popular at Kuoh Academy and known for his good looks, intelligence and personality.

VIDEO:

“High School DxD” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is an animated series that is well-animated.  The characters are well-shaded, backgrounds feature a good blend of painted backgrounds and CG.  While a colorful animated series, there is a slight softness but for the most part, the animated series does looks sharp and colorful in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“High School DxD” is presented in English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0.  Voice acting for both series are well-done, while the English dub writing features a much more raunchier and mature dialogue.  So, I think that those watching for the English dub will enjoy the pervertedness of the English dub dialogue.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“High School DxD: The Series” features the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Jamie Marchi (voice of Rias/lead writer), Felecia Angelle (voice of Raynare) and Teri Rogers (voice of Akeno).
  • Episode 7 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Jad Saxton (voice of Koneko), Scott Freeman (voice of Issei) and Tyson Rinehart (voice of Matsuda)
  • Fantasy Jiggles Unleashed – (22:22) Featuring six volumes of animated shorts featuring the characters of “High School DxD”: Vol. 1 – Going to the Beach, Vol. 2 – Aken’s Private Training, Vol. 3 – Koneko, a Bit More bold…Mreow, Vol. 4 – The Story of the First Dress Break, Vol. 5 – Making Udon noddles, Vol. 6 – Asia Transforms
  • New Material from Ichiei Ishibumi – (8:55) Featuring Fantasy Full-blast Gentleman’s Disc Club Promos – Introducing the Occult club, the Ladies, The Loli-Lolis, Promotional Video and Commercial Collection. In Japanese with English subtitles.
  • Textless Opening Song – “Trip -innocent of D-“
  • Textless Closing Song – “Study x Study”
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “High School DxD”.

EXTRAS:

It’s important to note that we are reviewing screener discs, so I can’t comment on the limited edition.  But the Blu-ray does come with a DVD version of the animated series.

For fans of perverted and mature anime series, “High School DxD” joins anime such as “Heaven’s Lost Property”as animation that showcases a lot of boobage, fan service and perverted humor.

While I suppose one can say “High School DxD” fits the banality of harem anime series and perverted protagonist, where “Heaven’s Lost Property” deals with women from another dimension who are sent to kill the protagonist but end up being part of the character’s harem and a series like “Sekirei” deals with women who have supernatural abilities involved in a death game but also ended up being part of the protagonist’s harem and wanting to protect him.  The same can be said for “High School DxD”.  Nearly each episode features a female character wanting to get closer to Issei.

But the primary difference is that the character of Issei, while highly perverted, has died and was given a second chance at life by demons.  While characters working with demons can be dark, the fact is that these demons are well-endowed, powerful and some are quite naughty.

As for those serving the church or angels, the angels are sadistic and cruel.

As for the animation, quite often, the scenes feature characters and their gleaming breast, a behind look at a characters panties and in perverted fashion, a lot of detail that goes into a character’s breasts.

As for the Blu-ray release, “High School DxD” looks sharp and colorful in HD and as far as the dialogue is concerned, the writing for the series is much more perverted and suited to the mature taste of Americans, while the Japanese soundtrack, which is also well-acted, is perverted but not as much as its English counterpart.  And the Blu-ray release also features audio commentary (especially a second audio commentary that I found to be quite awkward between the FUNimation dub actors) but also more content from the original Japanese Blu-ray release.

Overall, “High School DxD: The Series” is a mature and perverted anime series that screams “boobylicious” and may not be for everyone. The series doesn’t break any new ground and as a harem anime series, certain plots are quite predictable.

But if you have been fans of FUNimation’s more mature anime titles such as “Heaven’s Lost Property”, “Sekirei” and “Freezing”, fans of anime series with a lecherous protagonist, many well-endowed female characters and plenty of fan service will surely enjoy the wacky, hilarious but action-packed “High School DxD”!

 

Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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The sequel to the original “Eureka Seven” series, for those wondering what happened to Renton and Eureka, will definitely want to watch “Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean”.  An exciting mecha anime series from anime studio, BONES… “Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean is a series that I definitely recommend!

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

TITLE: Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 11 Episodes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: August 13, 2013

Directed by Tomoki Kyoda

Series Composition by Kakuto Takeyoshi

Music by Koji Nakamura

Character Design by Hiroyuki Oda

Art Director: Ayumi Sato, Kazuo Nagai, Makoto Ujiie, Takeshi Waki

Mecha Design by Takehiro Ishimoto

Anime Production: BONES

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kanako Miyamoto/Lindsay Seidel as Naru Arata

Yūtarō Honjō/Micah Solusod as Ao Fukai

Akio Nojima/Charlie Campbell as Alexander Boyd

Ayaka Ohashi/Sainty Reid as Fleur Blanc

Chiaki Omigawa/Jad Saxton as Elena Peoples

Chie Nakamura/Jamie Marchi as Rebecka Halström

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Tyson Rinehart as Georg

Ikuya Sawaki/Kent Williams as Stanley Fry

Kaori Nazuka/Stephanie Sheh as Eureka

Katsunosuke Hori/R. Bruce Elliot as Toshio Fukai

Kazuhiko Inoue/Todd Haberkorn as Truth

Keiji Fujiwara/Johnny Yong Bosch as Renton Thurston

Keikou Sakai/Matt Thurston as Pippo

Kouichi Toochika/Duncan Brennan as Yasumochi Nakamura

Nao Tōyama/Monica Rial as Noah

Rokuro Naya/Chuck Huber as Christophe Blanc

Takuya Kirimoto/Brandon Potter as Gazelle

Tetsuo Goto/John Swasey as Ivica Tanovic

Yoshinori Fujita/Anthony Bowling as Han Juno

Sequel to Eureka Seven.

The year is 2025. Earth is engulfed in the crossfire between massive warring alien life forms that leave annihilation in their wake. While searching for clues about his past, Ao is caught in an attack and forced to fly a giant humanoid fighter craft to save himself and his island. Fragments of the teenager’s origin come to light when a hostile shape-shifter seeking revenge on Ao’s missing mother – who vanished two years after his birth – targets him instead.

Consumed with learning how his machine of war is connected to his mother and the monster that now pursues him, the young pilot will fly full throttle into combat zones without hesitation.

Contains episodes 1-12.

“Eureka Seven”, the 2005 mecha anime series from BONES that captivated viewers all over the world.

The popular mecha anime TV series from Bones has spawned video games, novels and a movie.  But the animated series also was adapted into a manga series which ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s “Monthly Shonen Ace” from 2005-2006 with a total of 23 chapters.

As the anime series was a big hit in the US airing on the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim”, the six volume manga series was previously released in the US.  But with the new “Eureka Seven” film released in US theaters in Sept. 2009 and in 2012, a new series titled “Eureka Seven Astral Ocean” was aired on television, a sequel to the first anime series and now the first part of the Blu-ray release will be released in the U.S. courtesy of FUNimation in August 2013.

“Eureka Seven: AO” has received three manga adaptations (“Eureka Seven: AO”, “Eureka Seven: AO ~Save a Prayer~” and “Eureka Seven nAnO”) and also an OVA release.

“Eureka Seven: AO” is directed by Tomoki Kyoda (“Eureka Seven”, “Halo Lgends”, “Wolf’s Rain”, “RahXephon”), music by Koji Nakamura and character design by Hiro Kanzaki (“Oreimo” series).

First, getting to know “Eureka Seven”

While it helps to watch the original “Eureka Seven” series, it is not necessary.

The series takes place 10,000 years after humanity left their planet after an intelligent, sentient life form known as Scub Coral attached itself and merged with the planet.  Humanity was forced to find other planets to live.

Which now leads us to the original series. “Eureka Seven” revolves around a boy named Renton Thurston, a young 14-year-old who is brash and tends to enjoy living for the moment.  His hobby is grabbing his lift board (somewhat like a surf or skateboard but is used for floating in the air) and just riding it and having fun.  Renton, also happens to be the son of the late military hero Adroc Thurston and the grandson of famous scientist Axel Thurston.  But unlike them, Renton is not into studying nor does he have any career ambitions, he’s just a boy who idolizes Ray-Out Magazine’s Holland Novak, a professional lift board rider.

One day, a mecha (an LFO known as Nirvash typeZERO – the world’s first humanoid mobile machine – Light Finding Operation) crashes near his home and inside it comes out a girl who piloted it.  While repairs are being done on the LFO, Renton becomes happy when the girl tells him that she knows Holland (Renton’s lift board idol) and immediately, Renton becomes happy but the more he sees this girl, he starts to fall for her.

The military (U.F. Force) then disrupts their meeting as they try to get the girl and the two quickly escape on the LFO together.   While being pursued, somehow the two managed to create “The Seventh Swell” and grabs the attention of Holland and his crew (known as The Gekko State).  Can Renton be the source of hidden power of the Nirvash?

Meanwhile, we learn from the military why they are pursuing Eureka and that she and the Nirvash were part of a major military secret project that was stolen by Holland and now they want her back.  Meanwhile, the crew wonder if Renton is the real deal of what happened with the Nirvash or was it freak situation that just happened.  As for Renton, he’s just happy to be part of a group that Holland belongs to and most of all, to be near Eureka.

The storylined featured The Gekko State trying to hide from the military or getting into battles with each other, a third party, an alien race known as the Coralians have reappeared and for some reason, they are also going after Eureka.

Outside of the storyline involving the Gekko State and UF Force, the other primary storyline is Renton and Eureka’s storyline as two people who don’t understand their emotions but they are attracted to each other.  The other storyline focuses on the Novak brothers as we see Holland doing what he can to protect his team but trying to calm his hatred towards his brother Dewey, and vice-versa as Dewey tries to put his plan to rule UF Force and using anemone (a girl who looks similar to Eureka but are quite different) to destroy Gekko State and those who will stand in his way.

Leading up to “Eureka Seven: AO”

This series takes place in the year 2025 in Okinawa on the island of Iwato Jima and is about a 13-year-old boy named Ao Fukai who lives with Dr. Toshio Fukai.  His mother mysteriously vanished 10 years ago and one day while he and his friend Naru Arata are on the beach, he is nearly hit by a group of people (Gazelle, Pippo and Han Juno).  As they get into an argument, Ao accidentally takes a bracelet that was trying to be smuggled out by the group.  But somehow a Scub Coral and a G-Monster appear out of nowhere.

The group led by Gazelle were trying to smuggle an item to the Japanese Armed Forces with a hefty payday in return, but missing is a bracelet.  As the group go on to retrieve it, another Scub Coral and G-Monster appears and Cristophe Blanc of Generation Bleu makes a deal with the Union of the Okinawa Islands government to fight the G-Monster.

As for Ao, he realizes that the bracelet that the guys had actually belonged to his mother and Gazelle is wanting it back.  Ao refuses but as the they continue to argue, the G-Monster attacks Iwato Jima and in the mayhem, Ao escapes with the men for safety and ends up inside an IFO that was transported by the Japanese navy and defeats the G-Monster.  But while inside, his hair changes to turquoise.

It is revealed that the people of Iwato Jima have blamed Ao’s mother for the terrible accidents that the island had suffered and because he now has her turquoise hair, they begin hunting down Ao.  Ao is taken in by Kazuyuki Kinjo, a local musician who is apologetic for the behavior of his generation.  Meanwhile, Ivica Tanovich of Generation Bleu is looking for Ao, because he piloted the IFO..the Nirvash.  But how can that be possible?

As for the woman with turquoise hair, Ao’s mother… she had a name.  Eureka.

VIDEO:

“Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean)” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  As always, when it comes to mecha series, BONES does a fantastic job with character and mechanical designs but also a good blend of CG with art backgrounds to create a futuristic but beautiful landscape.  Mechanical design for this latest series is well-done.  Colors are vibrant when they need to be but if anything, for fans of the original animated series, will enjoy the character designs and overall look of the series.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean)” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and 2.0 (Japanese).  As always the case, the English soundtrack has much better dynamic range and use of the surround channels thanks to its 5.1 mix.  During the action sequences throughout the first 12 episodes, scenes are immersive and dialogue and music as well as the special effects are crystal clear.  As for the Japanese stereo soundtrack, dialogue is clear but doesn’t have the same immersiveness as the 5.1 soundtrack, which is understandable.  But I did like the Japanese soundtrack for the way the emotional scenes were done, but for the most part, both English dub and Japanese voice acting are well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Eureka Seven AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1” features the following special features:

  • Episode 5 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chuck Huber (voice of Blanc), Jad Saxton (voice of Elena) and Sainty Reed (voice of Fleur).
  • Inside the Booth: Eureka Seven: AO – (13:55) A special look at the voice recording of “Eureka Seven: AO”.
  • Episode 10 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (ADR Director), Tyson Rinehart (voice of Georg) and John Swasey (voice of Ivica).
  • Original Commercials  – (3:17) The original Japanese commercials for “Eureka Seven: AO”.
  • Textless Opening Song – Featuring four different opening songs for “Escape”.
  • Textless Closing Song – Featuring three different closing songs of “Stand By Me”.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

EXTRAS:

“Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1” Blu-ray also comes with the DVD version.

“Eureka Seven: AO” has been an enjoyable series to read thus far.

If anything, I’m glad of the connection between the original series and the sequel and the whole mystery of what happened to Eureka?

For those of us who followed the original series and even watched the original film, you would hope that the storyline between Renton and Eureka ended with a happy ending.  But sure enough, “Eureka Seven: AO” continues with this all new storyline surrounding a new young teenager named Ao, who has the power to pilot a Nirvash and now he has the same hair color of his mother…. Eureka?

But just when you think that Ao was the focus, by episode 7 we are introduced to the antagonist known as Truth and he is not after Ao, he is after his friend Naru?

But so far for the first half, the storyline features Team Pied Piper along with the military engaging in war against The Secret which is appearing in various parts of the world and Team Pied Piper stand buy, wanting to intervene but the U.S. Government is against it.  So, as Teamed Pied Piper goes on various missions, more questions are left for the viewer especially towards fellow pilot Elena Peoples.

While the 12th episode leaves with a teaser, which I don’t want to spoil.  But I think fans of the original series will enjoy it!

As for non-fans who have no intention of watching the original series (especially since only the film and not the TV series are available on Blu-ray), for those not familiar with “Eureka Seven”, I think those who have followed the “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Gurren Lagann” series will definitely find “Eureka Seven” to be an entertaining series.  You get a large group of characters but a storyline focusing on the underdog who turns out to be quite the hero but yet has the low self esteem issue and tends to doubt himself.  Sure, it’s a prevailing theme with many mecha series but in this case, where Gundam focuses on survival and “Gurren Lagann” focuses on eradicating the evil on the planet, “Eureka Seven: AO” so far has been a storyline about humanity trying to rid of the Scub Corals while a Secret tries to attack them and areas around the world.

While the first half of the storyline featured more about the Secrets attacking and the military’s response, with how the 12th episode ended, it definitely makes me excited to see what happens in the second half.

As for the Blu-ray release, the anime series looks great and the voice acting is well done on both the Japanese and English dub.  But with the English dub having the 5.1 lossless soundtrack, it has better dynamic range and use of the surround channels for more immersiveness.  You also get special features including audio commentary and more.

I definitely look forward to conclusion of the “Eureka Seven: AO” and for fans of the original series, because it is a true sequel, you’ll definitely want to check this sequel out!

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!

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