Initial D Legend 1: Awakening (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 7, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who are fans of “Initial D” or those who are curious about the series, will no doubt want to check out this more recent offering of an “Initial D” storyline featuring the race between the Akina Speed Stars vs. the Akagi Red Suns. “Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is a film worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © 2017 Sentai Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Initial D Legend 1: Awakening

DURATION: 60 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks


Release Date: December 5, 2017

Originally Created by Shuichi Shigeno

Directed by Masamitsu Hidaka

Script by Mayori Sekijima

Music by Akio Dobashi

Character Design: Koji Haneda

Art Director: Shinichi Uehara

Chief Animation Director: Koji Haneda

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS, SANZIGEN Animation Studio

Featuring the following voice talent:

Mamoru Miyano/Joel McDonald as Takumi Fujiwara

Daisuke Ono/J. Michael Tatum as Ryōsuke Takahashi

Hiroaki Hirata/Bill Wise as Bunta Fujiwara

Hiroshi Tsuchida/Eric Vale as Kōichirō Iketani

Junichi Suwabe/Brian Mountbatten as Takeshi Nakazato

Maaya Uchida/Brina Palencia as Natsuki Mogi

Minoru Shiraishi/Josh Grelle as Itsuki Takeuchi

Yūichi Nakamura/Gray G. Haddock as Keisuke Takahashi

In Initial D Legend 1: Awakening, when aspiring racer Koichiro Iketani witnesses an unplanned street duel between Keisuke Takahashi, a member of a rival race team, and a mysterious Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86, Koichiro’s totally blown away by the skill of the 86’s driver. What Koichiro doesn’t know is that the driver is fellow gas station attendant Takumi Fujiwara, who was making a late-night tofu delivery for his father, a legendary Mt. Akina driver himself.Unforeseen events are about to springboard Takumi into the center of the street-racing world, turning the rivalry between Iketani’s Akina Speedsters and Takahashi’s Akagi Red Suns into an all-out street war! The legendary series that introduced the west to the sport of drift racing is reinvented in an all new feature film that’s even faster and more furious than ever before: NEW THEATRICAL MOVIE INITIAL D LEGEND 1: AWAKENING! Initial D Legend 2: Racer Preview.

For over 15 years, “Initial D” has been a favorite anime series for those interested in drag racing and drifting. Originally created by mangaka Shuichi Shigeno and serialized in Kodansha’s “Young Magazine” back in 1995 and still ongoing in Japan, the first season of “Initial D” was shown on television in 1998.

In 2014, it was announced that a new Initial D film would be released and it would be a three part story based on Shuichi Shigeno’s manga.

The movie is more or less a retelling of the earl stages of the manga and now “Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The manga and anime is about Japanese street racing and focuses on a teenager named Takumi Fujiwara, son of Bunta Fujiwara, who owns a tofu shop. Takumi works at a gas station but when he’s at home, he delivers tofu at 4:00 a.m. and is known to speed through the mountain slopes of Mt. Akitna at high speed driving his father’s AE86 Trueno.

The purpose of this is that his father Bunta has wanted to develop his driving skills and sure enough, his skill is top notch.

But for Takumi, although he has been riding and delivery tofu for a long time and has sharp driving skills, driving fast and getting from point a to point b was merely doing it for his father and not for the sake of trying to race.

But when a well-known group of street racers known as the Akagi Red Suns come to visit Mt. Akina and Keisuke Takahashi of the Akagi RedSuns finds himself racing against a mysterious Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 leaving Keisuke defeated.

Now fired up, Keisuke Takashi wants to know who drives the AE86 and wants to race him.

Meanwhile, the Akina Speed Stars are visited by Keisuke Takahashi of the Akagi Redsuns for a joint race but in reality, its Keisuke’s challenge to whoever beat him with the AE86.

With news of an AE86 beating Keisuke Takahashi (as witnessed by Akina Speedstars leader, Koichiro Iketani), Bunta can’t help but talk about it.  But for Takumi, he has no idea with an AE86 is (unaware that the Trueno he drives is an AE86).

In dire need of a member who exceeds in downhill driving after their team leader Iketani gets involved in an accident. He learns from his boss at the gas station, Yuichi Tachibana, that the AE86 is a tofu delivery vehicle owned by Bunta Fujiwara. This leads to Iketani to plead with Bunta to race against Keisuke (unaware that Bunta is no longer delivering the food, nor does Iketani know that Takumi is Bunta’s son and is responsible for doing the deliveries).

Meanwhile, Takumi is getting closer to Natsuki and wants to take her out on a date and needs to borrow the Trueno AE86.  But his father said he can in one condition…he must use the car and race against Keisuke Takahashi.

Who will race for the pride of Akina against Keisuke Takahashi of the Akagi RedSuns?


“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is presented in 1080p High Definition and as one can expect from a newer film, the old artwork and CG that was utilized in the past has been modernized with better animation for the race scenes.  The character designs are much closer to the manga series and are well-shaded and the background artwork is also a major improvement.


“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  The lossless audio features crystal clear audio and also utilizing the surround channels for the rev of engines and the squealing of tires but also outdoor ambiance.

It’s important to note that both Japanese and English voice actors from the past have all been replaced, with the exception of Joel McDonald who was the voice actor of Takumi Fujiwara, J. Michael Tatum who was the voice of Ryosuke Takahashi and Brina Palence (voice of Natsuki) in the original English dub soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.


“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” comes with no significant special features but the teaser that was at the end of the Japanese credits for the film is featured.  Featuring the appearance of Myogi NightKids Takeshi Nakazato who no doubt wants to take on the person racing with an AE86.


“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.

“Initial D” is an anime classic. I’ve watched this series when it first came out and I still don’t get bored by watching it. I’ve played the video games and there is something about the stoic underdog, Takumi Fujiwara, going from food delivery to become a top-notch racer.

But as the anime series was different and cut out a lot of backstory for the characters as featured in the manga.  And with the new “Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” focused on the race between the Mt. Akina Speed Stars vs. the Akagi Red Suns, the story doesn’t stray too much into backstories.

No focus on Natsuki’s major secret, no focus on Ryosuke’s brother Keisuke or their friend Kenji. Nor does the film get into nicknames such as Bunta’s “Ghost of Akina” or Ryosuke’s “White Comet of Akagi”.

This is a film that strictly gets to the race between both groups and who will be racing for the Mt. Akina Speed Stars against Ryosuke Takahashi and it’s an hour long film.

The Blu-ray features better artwork and background artwork, with the former respectful to the original manga series.  While the film in Japan featured a teaser for the second film at the end credits, that teaser has been made into a special feature.

Was there anything I didn’t like about the film?  Possibly the 60 minute duration, I felt that they could have added another 30 minutes at least because it was too short.  And because the film was released during the film’s 20th year anniversary, so I wish there were more special features included.

Overall, for those who are fans of “Initial D” or those who are curious about the series, will no doubt want to check out this more recent offering of an “Initial D” storyline featuring the race between the Akina Speed Stars vs. the Akagi Red Suns.

“Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” is a film worth checking out!

Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series (A J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series” is an anime series that is easy to follow, is a lot of fun and fully of action.  If you enjoy magical academy anime series and are looking for an anime series with a shorter duration, “Sky Wizards Academy” is worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series


DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation


Release Date: November 8, 2016

Originally created by Yu Moroboshi

Directed by Takayuki Inagaki

Series Composition by Hiroshi Yamaguchi

Music by Daisaku Kume

Original Character Design by Mikihiro Amami

Character Design by Osamu Horiuchi

Art Director: Hirofumi Sakagami, Hiroshi Kato

Art Design by Hiroshi Kato, Shingo Yonekawa

Anime Production by diomedia

Featuring the following voice talent:

Iori Nomizu/Dawn M. Bennett as Rico Flamel

Nao Tōyama/Megan Shipman as Lecty Eisenach

Nozomi Yamamoto/Tia Ballard as Misora Whitale

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Joel McDonald as Kanata Age

Chika Anzai/Lynsey Hale as Amie Mustung

Hiroki Yasumoto/Chris Guerrero as Real Nua

Ibuki Kido/Sarah Wiedenheft as Christina Balcuhorn

Jiro Saito/Jeremy Inman as Gail Whitale

Mami Kamikura/Alexis Tipton as Sasha Nielsen

Mari Misaki/Bryn Apprill as Lily Lancaster

Nichika Omori/Michelle Rojas as Coela Viper

Rina Satou/Morgan Garrett as Socie Whitale

Risa Taneda/Jad Saxton as Yuri Flostre

Saeko Zōgō/Alexis Moore as Freon Flamel

Tetsuya Kakihara/Ricco Fajardo as Lloyd Alwyn

Yuki Yamada/Megan Emerick as Chloe Sevegny

Yukiko Yao/Ryan Reynolds as Greg Hastuck

Yuko Hara/Kristen McGuire as Beach

Catch the newest magical academy series from the studio behind World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman!

Once known as the Black Master Swordsman, Kanata Age has fallen in favor with the people of Misutogan after a harrowed battle against the Devil Beetles. Deemed a traitor, he has earned the scorn of his peers and classmates. Kanata is happy enough to fade into the background, until one day he is asked to become the teacher of Fireteam E601 aka the F’ed up Fireteam.

Rico Flamel, Lecty Eisenach, and Misora Whitale make up E601 and have yet to see a single victory. But it’s hard to work together when your team is made up of a self-proclaimed goddess, a coward, and an incapable leader. Not to mention when they mistake him for a pervert. But, Kanata must take these three failures and turn them into winners. Will they trust the man known as a traitor? Or is there more to his story that he just forgot to mention?

Back in 2013, writer Yu Moroboshi and illustrator Yuka Nakajima created the Japanese light novel series “Kusen Madoshi Kohosei no Kyokan” (which translates to “The Instructor of the Aerial Combat Wizard Trainees”).

With a manga adaptation serialized on “Monthly Comic Alive” since 2014, a 12-episode anime series adaptation was created by Diomedea and aired in Japan from July through September 2015.

The series takes place during a time where humanity was driven off the land by magical armored insects forcing humans to live in floating cities in the sky.

To protect humanity, wizards fight the insects with magic in mid-air.

In the city of “Misutogan”, Kanata Age was known as the “Black Master Swordsman” of the elite S128 Team.  But because of circumstances, he was branded a traitor because he stopped going on missions and has received a bad reputation and no longer part of the elite team.

Kanata has now been assigned as the instructor of Fireteam E601, a team that has suffered 100 consecutive defeats.  Can Kanata turn this team around and get them to winning?  And what is the true reason why Kanata stopped fighting on missions?

Fireteam E601 consists of:

  • Misora Whitale – Misora is the leader of Platoon E601.  She has very good speed and stamina but because of her impulsive attitude, she is not good at giving orders nor is she good with her weapon.  Misora wants to be a sword sorcerer to honor her late mother.
  • Lecty Eisenach – A close combat fighter who is great with her weapon but because she is too shy, lacks confidence and can’t look at people that she doesn’t know, it prevents her from becoming an effective fighter. So, as part of her training, Kanata has her working at a maid cafe to develop her social skills and confidence.
  • Rico Flamel – Intelligent and a great sniper but she is narcissistic and calls herself a goddess and doesn’t feel that she should be a team player nor should she practice.  This prevents her from being a good fighter but Kanata must find a way to develop Rico’s will to fight and be a team player.


“Sky Wizards Academy” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Animation from diomedia is good as character designs are well-done, art backgrounds are also well-done and detailed.  Mechanical designs feature good shading and CG looks good.  The anime series is colorful, vibrant and I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.


“Sky Wizards Academy” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music. The English dub has the edge with its 5.1 surround soundtrack but both voice acting for Japanese and English are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.


“Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series” features the following special features:

  • Chapter 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tia Ballard (voice of Misora), Dawn M. Bennett (voice of Rico), Megan Shipman (voice of Lecty) and Joel Mcdonald (voice of Kanata).
  • Chapter 7 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Alex Moore (voice of Freon), Chris Guerrero (voice of Real) and Megan Emerick (voice of Chloe Sevigny).
  • OVA – Lecty, Animal Caretaker – (24:30) Featuring an OVA (only in Japanese with English subtitles) about Lecty discovering and caring for a Garuda chick that she names Tweetie, a chick that absorbs magical powers and the Sky Wizards are wanting to destroy it.
  • Promotional Videos – Japanese promo videos for “Kusen Madoshi Kohosei no Kyokan”
  • Commercials – Japanese anime CM for “Kusen Madoshi Kohosei no Kyokan”
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “Sky Wizards Academy”.


“Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.

Fireteam E601 is considered as the worst wizard team in the academy.

Misora is a team leader than doesn’t know how to use her weapons, Lecty is an excellent weapon user but too shy to engage her enemy and Rico is a narcissist who is an excellent sniper but can’t get along with anyone.

And someone needs to turn this team around.

Enter Kanata Age, once dubbed the strongest Sky Wizard of the elite Platoon S128 until after a major mission, he decided to never take part in any more missions.  Because of his refusal to take part in any missions to fight the insects, he has been dubbed a traitor to all wizards.

While his friends Chloe and Lloyd of Platoon S128 still support their friend, many don’t.  But when Kanata is assigned a new job and that is to be the new instructor of the terrible Fireteam E601, can Kanata Age find a way to turn this team around and make them one of the best Sky Wizard team?

The anime series is quite entertaining and action-packed but some may find the storyline to be quite simple as Kanata tries to teach these three to work as team and find ways to use their abilities.  And of course, it also has a harem vibe as each of Kanata’s students has a crush on him.

But with only 12-episodes, the series is easy to follow and for the most part, fans will find this series to be enjoyable, fun and full of action.  And no doubt, there is a lot of potential for multiple seasons, considering the storyline is ongoing in Japan.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful, while lossless audio is very good, primarily for the English soundtrack having a 5.1 surround track, while the Japanese track is 2.0 but both are well-acted.  As for special features, you get two audio commentary and the OVA episode, plus promotional videos, commercials and more.

Overall, “Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series” is an anime series that is easy to follow, is a lot of fun and fully of action.  If you enjoy magical academy anime series and are looking for an anime series with a shorter duration, “Sky Wizards Academy” is worth watching!