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

August 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: KanColle Kantai Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally concept by Kensuke Tanaka

Original Story by Kensuke Tanaka

Directed by Kanzou Kusakawa

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Natsumi Kameoka

Character Design by Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Anime Production: diomedea


Featuring the following voice talent:

Felecia Angelle/Sumire Uesaka as Fubuki

Jeannie Tirado/Yuka Iguchi as Kaga

Tia Ballard/Saki Fujita as Akagi

Alexis Tipton/Nao Toyama as Kongou

Amber Lee Connors/Yuka Otsubo as Ooi

Apphia Yu/Aya Suzuki as Hibiki

Brittney Karbowski/Ayane Sakura as Sendai

Camille Liedtka/Aya Suzuki as Inazuma

Cherami Leigh/Rina Hidaka as Mutsuki

Dawn M. Bennett/Nao Toyama as Hiei

Elizabeth Maxwell as Nagato

Jad Saxton/Ayane Sakura as Naka

Kristi Kang/Nao Toyama as Atago

Lara Woodhull/Aya Suzuki as Ikazuchi

Leah Clark/Yumi Tanabe as Yudachi

Megan Shipman/Ayane Sakura as Shimakaze

Monica Rial/Aya Suzuki as Akatsuki

Morgan Berry as Kitakami

Morgan Garrett/Ayane Sakura as Mutsu

Natalie Hoover/Ayane Sakura as Jintsu

Sarah Wiedenheft/Iori Nomizu as Zuikaku


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The primary characters of “KanColle Kantai Collection” are:

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 22, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

TITLE: Steins;Gate: Part 2

DURATION: Episodes 13-25 (300 Minutes)

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

RATED: 14+

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: December 18, 2012

Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki, Takuya Sato, Tomoki Kobayashi

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Jun Murakami, Takeshi Abo

Original Character Design by huke

Character Design by Kyuuta Sakai

Art Director: Koji Eto

Chief Animation Director: Kyuuta Sakai

Anime Production: WHITE FOX

Featuring the voices of:

Asami Imai/Trina Nishimura as Kurisu Makise

Mamoru Miyano/J. Michael Tatum as Rintarō Okabe

Ayano Yamamoto/Brina Palencia as Nae Tennōji

Halko Momoi/Jad Saxton as Faris Nyannyan

Kana Hanazawa/Jackie Ross as Mayuri Shiina

Masaki Terasoma/Christopher R. Sabat as Yūgo Tennōji

Saori Goto/Jessica Cavanagh as Moeka Kiryū

Tomokazu Seki/Tyson Rinehart as Itaru Hashida (Daru)

Yu Kobayashi/Lindsay Seidel as Ruka Urushibara

Yukari Tamura/Cherami Leigh as Suzuha Amane

Hiroshi Tsuchida/Patrick Seitz as John Titor

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

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

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

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

What is “Steins;Gate”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

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

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

AUDIO:

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

TITLE: Steins;Gate: Part 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

RATED: 14+

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2012

Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki, Takuya Sato, Tomoki Kobayashi

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Jun Murakami, Takeshi Abo

Original Character Design by huke

Character Design by Kyuuta Sakai

Art Director: Koji Eto

Chief Animation Director: Kyuuta Sakai

Anime Production: WHITE FOX

Featuring the voices of:

Asami Imai/Trina Nishimura as Kurisu Makise

Mamoru Miyano/J. Michael Tatum as Rintarō Okabe

Ayano Yamamoto/Brina Palencia as Nae Tennōji

Halko Momoi/Jad Saxton as Faris Nyannyan

Kana Hanazawa/Jackie Ross as Mayuri Shiina

Masaki Terasoma/Christopher R. Sabat as Yūgo Tennōji

Saori Goto/Jessica Cavanagh as Moeka Kiryū

Tomokazu Seki/Tyson Rinehart as Itaru Hashida (Daru)

Yu Kobayashi/Lindsay Seidel as Ruka Urushibara

Yukari Tamura/Cherami Leigh as Suzuha Amane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

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

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

AUDIO:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

K-On! Season Two, Collection 2 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The immensely popular “K-ON!” anime series is back with the final episodes of season two.  Graduation time has come for the members of the Light Music Club, but before they go on their own separate ways, enjoy the final episodes featuring Yui, Ritsu, Mio, Tsumugi and Azusa. Definitely one of my favorite anime series to be released in 2012!  If you are looking for a lighthearted, fun and hilarious anime series, “K-On!” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of ©Kakifly/Houbunshua/Sakura High Band. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: K-ON!: K-On! Season Two, Collection 2

DURATION: Episodes 14-26 + OVA (350 Minutes)

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

RATED: TV 14

COMPANY: TBS Animation/Sentai Filmworks

RELEASE DATE: August 28, 2012

Originally Created by kakifly

Directed by Naoko Yamada

Screenplay by Jukki Hanada, Katsuhiko Muramoto, Masahiro Yokotani, Reiko Yoshida

Music by Hajime Hyakkoku

Character Design by Yukiko Horiguchi

Art Director: Seiki Tamura

Chief Animation Director: Yukiko Horiguchi

Animation Production: Kyoto Animation

Featuring the voices of:

Aki Toyosaki/Stephanie Sheh as Yui Hirasawa

Asami Sanada/Karen Strassman as Sawako Yamanaka

Ayana Taketatsu/Christine Marie Cabanos as Azusa Nakano

Chika Fujitō/Laura Bailey as Nodoka Manabe

Madoka Yonezawa/Xanthe Huynh as Ui Hirasawa

Minako Kotobuki/Shelby Lindley as Tsumugi Kotobuki

Satomi Satou/Cassandra Lee as Ritsu Tainaka

Yōko Hikasa/Cristina Vee as Mio Akiyama

Yoriko Nagata/Michelle Ann Dunphy as Jun Suzuki

Sometimes music and words come together so perfectly that the combination is far more powerful than either would be alone. In much the same way, the five members of the Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School’s Light Music Club have become far more than just a group of girls with similar interests. More, even, than just a group of friends. Through the medium of music they’ve found a common course in life, and whatever the future may bring, they know they can get through it if they stand together. Which makes the coming end of the school year and the graduation of the four older members something that’s dreaded as much as it’s looked forward to. But in the meantime there’s so much going on, it’s as life has decided to throw everything it can at them. Going to music festivals won’t be hard to swing, but running a marathon? That will be a stretch! Yearbook photos? The horror! And a school play with Mio and Ritsu cast as Romeo and Juliet? Ooo, VERY awkward. And then, of course, there’s one big final performance for the band! The tempo is rising and emotions run wild as the final encore approaches in K-ON! Season 2 Collection 2!!

All good things must come to an end and for the Light Music Club at Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School, Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Tsumugi are graduating high school and will be moving on their own separate directions.  And for sophomore Azusa, will she be left alone or will new members join the Light Music Club?  Find out in “K-On! Season Two, Collection 2”!

The girls of Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School’s Light Music Club (K-On!) are back in season 2 of the hit Japanese animations series known as “K-On!”.

“K-ON!”, happens to be one of the hottest anime series in Japan that has not only dominated in the TV ratings but also on Japan’s Oricon music charts!

The series has been a phenomenon as it has attracted fans all over the world, those who want to cosplay as the characters, those who want to sing like the characters and those who want to play the music of the characters. Just one look on YouTube and all over the Internet and you can see how passionate fans have been for this series!

“K-ON!” began as a four-panel comic strip written and illustrated by kakifly and the manga would then be serialized in Houbunsha’s seinen manga magazine “Manga Time Kirara” between May 2007-October 2010. In April 2011, the manga was relaunched on both “Manga Time Kirara” and Houbunsha’s magazine “Manga Time Kirara Carat” with two separate storylines.

The popularity of the manga series led to a 13-episode anime TV series which aired in Japan on April-June 2009, an OVA episode in Jan. 2010 and a 26-episode second season titled “K-ON!!” which aired in Japan from April through Sept. 2010, a new OVA released in March 2011 and an animated film last winter.

The series would also lead to a Sony PSP music rhythm video game and now,  for American audiences who have been wanting more K-On!, “K-On!” Season Two, Collection 2 will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

What is K-On!?

“K-ON!” is a play on the Japanese word “keiongaku” (light music) and the series follows four high school students of Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School who are members of the “keiongaku” club. The four characters featured thus far in the series are Yui Hirasawa, a naive and clumsy student entering high school who is not entirely sure what she wants to do in terms of extracurricular activities. While she tries to figure out what she wants to do, two other students, Ritsu Tainaka and Mio Akiyama join the keiongaku club to find out that most of the members have graduated and the only way they can keep the club open is if they have four members.

Because Ritsu plays the drums and Mio plays the bass guitar, they hope they can find other musicians and form a band.

Fortunately, a new member joins the group, Tsumugi Kobobuki, a student from a wealthy family who plays a Korg Triton Extreme 76-key keyboard. Now all they need is one member.

While Yui is trying to think of activities to do, she sees a flyer for the keiongaku club and in her mind, she remembers light music as something she did when she was young student in elementary school and so she joins. Meanwhile, the other three members are happy because with a fourth member, the club will stay alive but also the fact that maybe Yui is a guitarist and now, they can start their own band.

But Yui is not a musician and if anything, what she loves about the club is the ability to eat desserts and drink tea with the other members but when the three members perform in front of her, she becomes inspired and wants to be a member of the club and be part of the band.

Eventually Yui learns the guitar rather quickly and the four would go on to form a band known as Hokago Tea Time thanks to the advice from their advisor and former K-On! Club member and rocker Sawako Yamanaka.. By the end of the first season, the club gains a new club member named Asuza Nakano, a best friend of Yui’s younger sister Ui.

And the first season featured the band performing live in a non-school related event.

So, what happens in Season 2?

As the first season focused on group dynamics and the group wanting to perform live and work on being a band, as expected with the first season, they were character building episodes. Getting to know Yui, Ritsu, Mio, Tsumugi and Azusa as well as their friends Nodoka and advisor Sawako.

The second season now features some music related episodes but now focuses on their senior year and high school. Wondering what they will do after graduating and for young Azusa, being sad that her friends will be graduating and wondering what will happen to the Light Music Club after they leave and will they find any new members.

For their final senior school year, their music advisor Sawako Yamanaka is now their teacher and to make things interesting, she has brought together all senior classmates of the Light Music Club and also Nodoka into the same class. So, a lot of the episodes focus on their senior year in high school, rather than focusing on strictly music.

We are also get to see the introduction of Azusa’s friends who have an interest in joining the club, after seeing how much fun Asuza has with her bandmates.

For the second half of the series, the storyline becomes more emotional as the members know they are graduating high school and for Azusa, she realizes how much her new friends have made an impact on her life and wondering if she can continue the Light Music club without them.

Here is what to expect in the second half of episodes of “K-On! Season Two, Collection 2” (spoilerless summaries):

  • EPISODE 14 – Ritsu and Tsumugi hang out, but what happens when Tsumugi wants to be hit, like how Mio hits Ritsu in the head?
  • EPISODE 15 – Summer vacation is over and the girls participate in a school-wide marathon.
  • EPISODE 16 – Azusa wants the group to practice more but can she get them to do that?
  • EPISODE 17 – The Light Music club room is closed down as it will be undergoing repairs.  Now the group have to figure out where to practice.
  • EPISODE 18 – What happens when Mio is nominated by the club to be Juliet and for Romeo…Ritsu?
  • EPISODE 19 – It’s the big day for the “Romeo & Juliet” play but with the light music club’s upcoming live concert, she fears they haven’t had enough time to practice.
  • EPISODE 20 – It’s time for the girls to perform live at the school festival!
  • EPISODE 21 – The girl’s prepare for their graduating yearbook photos and think about what kind of haircut they should have for their senior photo.
  • EPISODE 22 – Azusa wants to make a chocolate cake for the members of the Light Music Club to celebrate Valentine’s Day but also their upcoming graduation.
  • EPISODE 23 – Members of the club want to hang out before their big graduation day.
  • EPISODE 24 – It’s graduation day and the final day that the Light Music Club with its current members, will be together in high school.
  • EPISODE 25 – A story that takes place after episode 21, Azusa finds the Light Music Club’s recruitment video.
  • EPISODE 26 – A story that takes place before episode 23, Nodoka shows the club a sample of their graduation yearbook.
  • OVA – The storyline takes place before episode 14 and features the girls wanting to go overseas.  But can they?

“K-ON!” features the following characters:

  • Yui Hirasawa– Yui is a naive and clumsy student who likes to sleep, eat and go shopping. But when she joins the Keiongaku club, she becomes the group’s newest member and the band’s guitarist. She tries to learn how to play a Heritage Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul standard electric guitar.
  • Ritsu Tainaka – The most vocal person of the Keiongaku club. She is a drummer that plays a yellow Rick Marotta Signature Yamaha hipgig drum kit and always upbeat, energetic, sarcastic and often always playing jokes on her good friend Mio. Sometimes she can get in the nerves of the other members but she is the most determined in wanting to make sure the club exists and that they form a band.
  • Mio Akiyama – The levelheaded person of the group and the smartest student among the four. She plays a Fender Jazz Bass. She originally was planning to join the literary club but her friend Ritsu tore up her applications and made her join the Keiongaku club. Although a person who knows quite a bit about music, she is also quite shy and is easy to scare. She can’t take anything that deals with anything scary, ghosts, blood, injuries or anything macabre.
  • Tsumugi Kotobuki – The daughter of a very wealthy family. Known as “Mugi”, she plays a Korg Triton Extreme keyboard and is a piano prodigy. She is known for her blonde hair and thick eyebrows. Because her father owns a variety of businesses including a maid cafe, she often brings desserts to the club meetings.
  • Azusa Nakano – The same class as Yui’s sister Ui, Azusa joins the Keiongaku music club but not sure if she wants to stay because the members do not appear to be taking their band practices that seriously.

OTHER CHARACTERS:

  • Ui Hirasawa – Yui’s younger sister who tends to get Yui out of a jam. Unlike Yui, Ui is more responsible and mature and takes care of her older sister.
  • Nodoka Manabe – Yui’s childhood friend and confidant. Smart and intelligent, despite how Yui is at times, Nodoka always supports her.
  • Sawako Yamanaka – A beloved teacher known for her kind heart, she also carries a secret, she is a former member of the Keiongaku music club during her high school years and was a member of a death metal band known as “Death Devil” as the lead guitarist and vocalist. She has tried to hide her past but when the members find a photo and music of her past, as part of a deal for them to keep it a secret, she becomes their advisor. Despite seeming to be responsible, she is quite wild and an airhead like Yui. And also making the members dress up in costumes that she creates.

VIDEO:

“K-ON!” is an anime series that is stylishly created but also features beautifully painted art backgrounds. Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen), one thing that I love to see when it comes to anime series is the attention to detail when covering a modern setting.

A lot of TV series tend to not make the backgrounds of a city landscape so detailed and tend to put a lot of recycled trees, dirt and sky but “K-ON!”, is not one of those anime series. There are scenes and also still images of natural settings that are beautifully painted and added to the series. There is detail for the instruments, for the desserts and I felt that with each episode, aside from the practice room and the wideshot image of their school, there was always something new being featured in terms of location. So, the color palette of the series is full of color and nothing is stale or seemed regurgitated.

With that being said, the colors are a bit saturated but for an anime TV series (which is expected) but the OVA does feature more vibrant colors and a bit more detail.

For the many decades I have watched Japanese animation, for anime series that are set in a modern Tokyo setting, I prefer anime series that focused on the smallest details, such as what is inside their bedrooms and home. What’s inside the stores when they go shopping, etc. I love seeing those details instead of the typical walls or trees that are part of the banality anime TV series.

“K-ON!” is one of those series where those little things matter and for me, those attention to small details enhanced my appreciation for the series.

AUDIO:

If there was a weak side of this Blu-ray release, I’m sure the audiophiles might be a bit cranky that the soundtrack is not Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA. What you get is an English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack. What surprised me is the fact that even with the work for the English dub version, there was no change to make it a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack or to increase the bitrate for Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA. But for a Blu-ray release, those who are expecting immersive lossless audio may fret about it, while those who have been waiting for this series to come out to the U.S. will be perfectly fine with the its 2.0 lossless soundtrack.

Personally, I chose to have my receiver play the anime series with stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundscape. As for the voice acting, I am a bit biased to the Japanese voice acting but I did watch the series also with the English dub soundtrack and for the most part, both are well-done and the voice acting should appeal to fans who prefer their anime in Japan or English.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“K-On! Season Two, Collection 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Clean Opening and Closing Animations
  • Trailers – Sentai Filmworks trailers.

Since I first began reviewing “K-On!” and enjoying the series a lot, playing the video games to even purchasing the “K-On!” Figma figures, suffice to say, I always wondered if the series would go on for several seasons before the girl’s would graduate.  I just never thought that it would happen in season two.  But all things come to and end, but there is always a new beginning and this second half of “K-On!” is about one chapter ending, another chapter begins.

And for the Light Music Club, the music will continue.

As a fan of “K-On!”, we have watched as Yui looked for a club to join, purchasing her first guitar, hanging out with her friends during the holiday season, sleepovers, New Year’s Eve and we have seen them work hard to make their music (although, they possibly did more eating and having fun that practicing) but eventually growing their friendship and carrying the Light Music Club to new heights at Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School.

I will remember Mio’s fear of scary stories, I will remember Ritsu’s jokes and lackadaisical approach to music and of course, who can forget Tsumugi’s cheerfulness, her tea and sweets.

But here we are now with “K-On!” Season Two, Collection 2 and its time for Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Tsumugi to graduate from high school.  And as the first half featured the girl’s taking part in several events and having fun during summer vacation, this time around it’s about their final activities in school.  From taking part in a school play and performing at their last music festival at school but most importantly, seeing how this affects their young member Azusa.

Azusa has always been strong and not the type to express her emotions.  Sure, she may be frustrated as the group had slacked off from practicing but she also learns that her friendship has taught them a lot.  That it’s OK for her to show her sweet side, it’s ok for her to show off her emotions but most of all, what it feels like to have older sisters and friends who will be by you, no matter what.

And these last episodes are a culmination of that friendship and the final months leading to their graduation and a new beginning for the Light Music Club.

While the series is the end for Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Tsumugi as members of the Light Music Club, the story has continued in an animated film which ties into the final episode of the series.  But one of the cool things about this Blu-ray release are the inclusions of the two extra episodes and the OVA.

The two extra episodes are more or less episodes that take place before a certain time of the series and the OVA takes place before episode 14, if anything, episodes to prolong the fun times that these members have together.  But nevertheless, these final episodes for season two were fun and very emotional.    Graduating is emotional, saying goodbye to friends is emotional but as one chapter ends, another begins.

And I like to think that “K-On!” will exist.  Maybe not with the same members, but it will hopefully continue on with maybe Azusa or a whole new group of students.

But after watching season two, my feelings for the series have not changed.

I really love this series! And loved the progression of the Hokago Tea Time band and how each of these young ladies grew up together to become a band that can actually perform quite well and start playing their first major gig to now growing together and getting ready to prepare themselves to whatever happens after high school but for now, enjoying this final year together.

My favorite episodes of the second half of season two includes episode 20 featuring the group performing their songs as the school festival, episode 22 which features the girl’s taking their entrance exams for college but Azusa wanting to go the extra mile of doing something special for her friends before they graduate.  And of course, episodes 23-24 were great but episode 24 being the graduation episode, will no doubt bring a fan to tears, as it is the final goodbye.

I enjoyed every episode of the series and I just enjoy how lighthearted and fun they all were.  I love the fact that it focuses on normal high school life but also the formation of a band and the dynamics with each of the members as they go through their ups and downs but also the little cute quirks that come with each character.

I typically don’t go crazy over anime series, nor am I the hardcore fan that goes out and buys anything after I see a series but this is probably the first time since I watched an anime series such as “Ranma 1/2″ back in 1992, where I went out and started buying merchandise related to the series. In fact, I have purchased the PSP video game, the Figma figures and it has become one of my favorite series that I have really got into in a very long time in this manner.

The music is awesome! The characters are entertaining. The animation and art backgrounds were very good and for the most part, it has been a long time, possibly since “Azumanga Daioh” in which I really enjoyed gakusei-based anime series (student anime series – focused on a school setting).

As for the Blu-ray release, I know one of the major criticisms that the first season (released by Bandai Entertainment) was its price and that it only came with four episodes per volume. And many wondered if Sentai Filmworks would follow the same path. And fortunately, for fans, Sentai Filmworks included 13-episodes with this first collection and the second half, you get 14 episodes total.

As for picture quality and audio quality, “K-On!” also receives a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless soundtrack for both English and Japanese. And the TV series looks great on Blu-ray! And as for special features, the first season never really came with any and the second only comes with the clean opening and ending themes. But fortunately, fans should be happy that this second season Blu-ray release comes with the first 13-episodes, instead of just four episodes.

If you are an anime fan who loves a straight-up, feel-good anime series with nothing dark, nothing to risque but something just all out-fun, give “K-ON!” a chance! It’s a wonderful anime series on Blu-ray and there is really nothing like it out there (although one may want to check out the live action film “Linda Linda” if they are interested in a storyline of all-girl rock bands).

Overall, a fun, hilarious and entertaining second season of “K-ON!”.  It’s sad to see the character’s saying goodbye, especially after enjoying each episode for season one and two and watching the adventures and wild club meetings featuring the members of the Light Music Club.  But like life for many, after high school graduation, everyone moves on in their own separate direction and begins life anew.  But I will remember “K-On!” for its characters, its bubbly and happy storyline, its music and upbeat energy.

Definitely one of my favorite series to be released in 2012 and an enjoyable anime series overall!

I highly recommend both “K-On! Season Two, Collection 1 and 2.  Definitely recommended!

 

K-On! Season Two, Collection 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The immensely popular “K-ON!” anime series is back with its second season on Blu-ray. Featuring the first 13 episodes of the series, “K-On!” focuses on the senior year of high school for Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Tsumugi, but also a new recruiting year in hopes to gain new members to join sophomore Azusa.  If you are looking for a lighthearted, fun and hilarious anime series, “K-On!” is highly recommended!  Definitely one of my favorite anime series to be released in 2012!

Images courtesy of ©Kakifly/Houbunshua/Sakura High Band. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: K-ON!: K-On! Season Two, Collection 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

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

RATED: TV 14

COMPANY: TBS Animation/Sentai Filmworks

RELEASE DATE: August 11, 2012

Originally Created by kakifly

Directed by Naoko Yamada

Screenplay by Jukki Hanada, Katsuhiko Muramoto, Masahiro Yokotani, Reiko Yoshida

Music by Hajime Hyakkoku

Character Design by Yukiko Horiguchi

Art Director: Seiki Tamura

Chief Animation Director: Yukiko Horiguchi

Animation Production: Kyoto Animation

Featuring the voices of:

Aki Toyosaki/Stephanie Sheh as Yui Hirasawa

Asami Sanada/Karen Strassman as Sawako Yamanaka

Ayana Taketatsu/Christine Marie Cabanos as Azusa Nakano

Chika Fujitō/Laura Bailey as Nodoka Manabe

Madoka Yonezawa/Xanthe Huynh as Ui Hirasawa

Minako Kotobuki/Shelby Lindley as Tsumugi Kotobuki

Satomi Satou/Cassandra Lee as Ritsu Tainaka

Yōko Hikasa/Cristina Vee as Mio Akiyama

Yoriko Nagata/Michelle Ann Dunphy as Jun Suzuki

For two full years, Yui, Mio, Ritsu and Tsumugi have worked together to keep Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School’s struggling Light Music Club alive, and along the way they’ve begun to build a reputation as real rock musicians… especially since the previous year’s addition of underclassman rhythm guitarist Azusa. But as a new school year begins, there are new and scary challenges ahead.

With four fifths of the club graduating at the end of the year, replacement members have to be recruited. There are college exams to prepare for, colleges to choose, and friends to prepare to say goodbye to. But no matter what happens, they’ll have their faculty adviser and secret former death metal guitar/vocalist Sawako Yamada there to help them in her own unusual way, especially since she’s now their homeroom teacher as well!

Most of all, they’ll have each other. The group of amateur musicians who barely knew each other has become much more than just a band, and by the time this school year is over, they’re going to achieve something so amazing it requires multiple exclamation marks!!

The girls of Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School’s Light Music Club (K-On!) are back in season 2 of the hit Japanese animations series known as “K-On!”.

“K-ON!”, happens to be one of the hottest anime series in Japan that has not only dominated in the TV ratings but also on Japan’s Oricon music charts!

The series has been a phenomenon as it has attracted fans all over the world, those who want to cosplay as the characters, those who want to sing like the characters and those who want to play the music of the characters. Just one look on YouTube and all over the Internet and you can see how passionate fans have been for this series!

“K-ON!” began as a four-panel comic strip written and illustrated by kakifly and the manga would then be serialized in Houbunsha’s seinen manga magazine “Manga Time Kirara” between May 2007-October 2010. In April 2011, the manga was relaunched on both “Manga Time Kirara” and Houbunsha’s magazine “Manga Time Kirara Carat” with two separate storylines.

The popularity of the manga series led to a 13-episode anime TV series which aired in Japan on April-June 2009, an OVA episode in Jan. 2010 and a 26-episode second season titled “K-ON!!” which aired in Japan from April through Sept. 2010, a new OVA released in March 2011 and an animated film last winter.

The series would also lead to a Sony PSP music rhythm video game and now, the first half (13 episodes) of “K-On!” Season Two will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

What is K-On!?

“K-ON!” is a play on the Japanese word “keiongaku” (light music) and the series follows four high school students of Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School who are members of the “keiongaku” club. The four characters featured thus far in the series are Yui Hirasawa, a naive and clumsy student entering high school who is not entirely sure what she wants to do in terms of extracurricular activities. While she tries to figure out what she wants to do, two other students, Ritsu Tainaka and Mio Akiyama join the keiongaku club to find out that most of the members have graduated and the only way they can keep the club open is if they have four members.

Because Ritsu plays the drums and Mio plays the bass guitar, they hope they can find other musicians and form a band.

Fortunately, a new member joins the group, Tsumugi Kobobuki, a student from a wealthy family who plays a Korg Triton Extreme 76-key keyboard. Now all they need is one member.

While Yui is trying to think of activities to do, she sees a flyer for the keiongaku club and in her mind, she remembers light music as something she did when she was young student in elementary school and so she joins. Meanwhile, the other three members are happy because with a fourth member, the club will stay alive but also the fact that maybe Yui is a guitarist and now, they can start their own band.

But Yui is not a musician and if anything, what she loves about the club is the ability to eat desserts and drink tea with the other members but when the three members perform in front of her, she becomes inspired and wants to be a member of the club and be part of the band.

Eventually Yui learns the guitar rather quickly and the four would go on to form a band known as Hokago Tea Time thanks to the advice from their advisor and former K-On! Club member and rocker Sawako Yamanaka..  By the end of the first season, the club gains a new club member named Asuza Nakano, a best friend of Yui’s younger sister Ui.

And the first season featured the band performing live in a non-school related event.

So, what happens in Season 2?

As the first season focused on group dynamics and the group wanting to perform live and work on being a band, as expected with the first season, they were character building episodes.  Getting to know Yui, Ritsu, Mio, Tsumugi and Azusa as well as their friends Nodoka and advisor Sawako.

The second season now features some music related episodes but now focuses on their senior year and high school.  Wondering what they will do after graduating and for young Azusa, being sad that her friends will be graduating and wondering what will happen to the Light Music Club after they leave and will they find any new members.

For their final senior school year, their music advisor Sawako Yamanaka is now their teacher and to make things interesting, she has brought together all senior classmates of the Light Music Club and also Nodoka into the same class.  So, a lot of the episodes focus on their senior year in high school, rather than focusing on strictly music.

We are also get to see the introduction of Azusa’s friends who have an interested in joining the club, after seeing how much fun Asuza has with her bandmates.

Here is what to expect in the first 13 episodes of “K-On! Season Two, Collection 1” (spoilerless summaries):

  • EPISODE 1 – It’s a brand new school and members of the Light Music Club are determined to find more club members, so Azusa will not be alone.
  • EPISODE 2 – When the members of the club find Sawako’s old guitar, Sawako asks them to try and sell it in order to have money for their club.
  • EPISODE 3 – What happens when Ritsu decides that she doesn’t want to be a drummer anymore because she does not stand out enough, like the other members.
  • EPISODE 4 – The group takes a class trip to Kyoto and Mio becomes annoyed by Yui and Ritsu’s childlike behavior.
  • EPISODE 5 – While the seniors are in Kyoto, Ui, Azusan and Jun try to have their own fun together.
  • EPISODE 6 – Trying to keep her “Gita” dry from the rain, Yui gets drenched in water and her friends try to help her change into whatever clothes they can find.
  • EPISODE 7 –  Who is stalking Mio?
  • EPISODE 8 – The seniors of the Light Music Club must fill out their University Choice forms.
  • EPISODE 9 – Yui’s friend (who she refers to as her grandmother), asks her to participate in a talent show.  Yui feeling an obligation, must perform but also study for her finals at the same time.
  • EPISODE 10 – A former member of Sawako’s band (and former member of the club) asks a favor from the current members of the Light Music Club.
  • EPISODE 11 – With the club room so hot, the members of the Light Music Club wonder if they can get an A/C installed in their room.
  • EPISODE 12 – Sawako takes the members of the Light Music Club to the Natsu Music Festival, for them to experience new bands and what happens at a music festival.
  • EPISODE 13 – While the Light Music Club senior members are studying for exams, Azusa is bored and starts to have weird dreams.

“K-ON!” features the following characters:

  • Yui Hirasawa– Yui is a naive and clumsy student who likes to sleep, eat and go shopping. But when she joins the Keiongaku club, she becomes the group’s newest member and the band’s guitarist. She tries to learn how to play a Heritage Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul standard electric guitar.
  • Ritsu Tainaka – The most vocal person of the Keiongaku club. She is a drummer that plays a yellow Rick Marotta Signature Yamaha hipgig drum kit and always upbeat, energetic, sarcastic and often always playing jokes on her good friend Mio. Sometimes she can get in the nerves of the other members but she is the most determined in wanting to make sure the club exists and that they form a band.
  • Mio Akiyama – The levelheaded person of the group and the smartest student among the four. She plays a Fender Jazz Bass. She originally was planning to join the literary club but her friend Ritsu tore up her applications and made her join the Keiongaku club. Although a person who knows quite a bit about music, she is also quite shy and is easy to scare. She can’t take anything that deals with anything scary, ghosts, blood, injuries or anything macabre.
  • Tsumugi Kotobuki – The daughter of a very wealthy family. Known as “Mugi”, she plays a Korg Triton Extreme keyboard and is a piano prodigy. She is known for her blonde hair and thick eyebrows. Because her father owns a variety of businesses including a maid cafe, she often brings desserts to the club meetings.
  • Azusa Nakano – The same class as Yui’s sister Ui, Azusa joins the Keiongaku music club but not sure if she wants to stay because the members do not appear to be taking their band practices that seriously.

OTHER CHARACTERS:

  • Ui Hirasawa – Yui’s younger sister who tends to get Yui out of a jam. Unlike Yui, Ui is more responsible and mature and takes care of her older sister.
  • Nodoka Manabe – Yui’s childhood friend and confidant. Smart and intelligent, despite how Yui is at times, Nodoka always supports her.
  • Sawako Yamanaka – A beloved teacher known for her kind heart, she also carries a secret, she is a former member of the Keiongaku music club during her high school years and was a member of a death metal band known as “Death Devil” as the lead guitarist and vocalist. She has tried to hide her past but when the members find a photo and music of her past, as part of a deal for them to keep it a secret, she becomes their advisor. Despite seeming to be responsible, she is quite wild and an airhead like Yui. And also making the members dress up in costumes that she creates.

VIDEO:

K-ON!” is an anime series that is stylishly created but also features beautifully painted art backgrounds. Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen), one thing that I love to see when it comes to anime series is the attention to detail when covering a modern setting.

A lot of TV series tend to not make the backgrounds of a city landscape so detailed and tend to put a lot of recycled trees, dirt and sky but “K-ON!”, is not one of those anime series. There are scenes and also still images of natural settings that are beautifully painted and added to the series. There is detail for the instruments, for the desserts and I felt that with each episode, aside from the practice room and the wideshot image of their school, there was always something new being featured in terms of location. So, the color palette of the series is full of color and nothing is stale or seemed regurgitated.

With that being said, the colors are a bit saturated but for an anime TV series (which is expected) but the OVA does feature more vibrant colors and a bit more detail.

For the many decades I have watched Japanese animation, for anime series that are set in a modern Tokyo setting, I prefer anime series that focused on the smallest details, such as what is inside their bedrooms and home. What’s inside the stores when they go shopping, etc. I love seeing those details instead of the typical walls or trees that are part of the banality anime TV series.

“K-ON!” is one of those series where those little things matter and for me, those attention to small details enhanced my appreciation for the series.

AUDIO:

If there was a weak side of this Blu-ray release, I’m sure the audiophiles might be a bit cranky that the soundtrack is not Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA. What you get is an English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack. What surprised me is the fact that even with the work for the English dub version, there was no change to make it a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack or to increase the bitrate for Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA. But for a Blu-ray release, those who are expecting immersive lossless audio may fret about it, while those who have been waiting for this series to come out to the U.S. will be perfectly fine with the its 2.0 lossless soundtrack.

Personally, I chose to have my receiver play the anime series with stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundscape. As for the voice acting, I am a bit biased to the Japanese voice acting but I did watch the series also with the English dub soundtrack and for the most part, both are well-done and the voice acting should appeal to fans who prefer their anime in Japan or English.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“K-On! Season Two, Collection 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Clean Opening and Closing Animations
  • Trailers – Sentai Filmworks trailers.

As a fan of “K-On!” and simply loving the first season, the question is how you can you continue this successful series?  And the answer is to focus on the club members as seniors in high school and having their final time together as classmates.

It is sad in a way, but “K-On!” does capture high school life and the plans that the kids have of having a band but then having to decide what next in their lives.  To continue with music or to find careers?

And that’s why I’m happy to see the character of Sawako having more of an impact this season.

As a former member of the Light Music Club, now advisor and teacher for Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Tsumugi, she personally knows how life went for her and her friends who were musicians and having to choose a different career path.

But as the first season focused on the music and the courage of the members to perform live and create Hokago Team Time, the second season has two storylines.  One focusing on the group’s final year in high school and part of the club, but also sophomore Azusa who is now starting to feel the emotions of how these young women, friends and club members who she thought were lazy and always eating cakes and drinking tea than performing, are actually much more to her life than she ever knew.

These bandmates and club members have made Azusa happy, they experienced adventures together that help establish her as a person with confidence but also a new drive and that is to continue the Light Music Club by finding new members.

I have to say that I really love this series!  And loved the progression of the Hokago Tea Time band and how each of these young ladies grew up together to become a band that can actually perform quite well and start playing their first major gig to now growing together and getting ready to prepare themselves to whatever happens after high school but for now, enjoying this final year together.

My favorite episodes of the first half of season two includes episode 10 titled “Sensei!”, the group following Sawako and finding out that she is meeting a former club member of the Light Music Club and a former member of the band, Death Devil.  But to see a juxtaposition of what Sawako experienced and the experiences of the members of current Light Music Club.

Another favorite was “Natsu Fesu!” and in Japan, summer music festivals are huge!  From Summer Sonic to the Fuji Rock Festival, it was great to see Sawako taking the members to their first music festival and just seeing their eyes light up when they experience these various bands.

“Atsui!” was another fun episode as the group are lacking the energy to do anything because of high heat and humidity, and their room has no A/C.  So, it is interesting and fun to see how far they go to cool down.

And to tell you the truth, every episode in this first half of season one, I enjoyed a lot!

I love the fact that it focuses on normal high school life but also the formation of a band and the dynamics with each of the members as they go through their ups and downs but also the little cute quirks that come with each character.

I typically don’t go crazy over anime series, nor am I the hardcore fan that goes out and buys anything after I see a series but this is probably the first time since I watched an anime series such as “Ranma 1/2″ back in 1992, where I went out and started buying merchandise related to the series. In fact, I have purchased the PSP video game, the Figma figures and it has become one of my favorite series that I have really got into in a very long time in this manner.

The music is awesome! The characters are entertaining. The animation and art backgrounds were very good and for the most part, it has been a long time, possibly since “Azumanga Daioh” in which I really enjoyed gakusei-based anime series (student anime series – focused on a school setting).

As for the Blu-ray release, I know one of the major criticisms that the first season (released by Bandai Entertainment) was its price and that it only came with four episodes per volume.  And many wondered if Sentai Filmworks would follow the same path.  And fortunately, for fans, Sentai Filmworks included 13-episodes with this first collection and also for the second half as well.

As for picture quality and audio quality, “K-On!” also receives a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless soundtrack for both English and Japanese.  And the TV series looks great on Blu-ray!  And as for special features, the first season never really came with any and the second only comes with the clean opening and ending themes.  But fortunately, fans should be happy that this second season Blu-ray release comes with the first 13-episodes, instead of just four episodes.

If you are an anime fan who loves a straight-up, feel-good anime series with nothing dark, nothing to risque but something just all out-fun, give “K-ON!” a chance! It’s a wonderful anime series on Blu-ray and there is really nothing like it out there (although one may want to check out the live action film “Linda Linda” if they are interested in a storyline of all-girl rock bands).

Overall, a fun, hilarious and entertaining second season of “K-ON!” and definitely one of my favorite series to be released in 2012.  Definitely recommended!

 

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

May 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Highly entertaining, perverted and all-out fun!  Possibly one of the most accessible CLAMP anime series, “Chobits” is a welcome addition to FUNimation Entertainment’s “Anime Classics” line on blu-ray.  Featuring all 24-episodes, plus three recap episodes and OAV, if you are a big fan of “Chobits”, this Blu-ray release is a worthy upgrade from the original DVD release.

Image courtesy of © CLAMP-KODANSHA/”Chobits” PARTNERSHIP. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Chobits: The Complete Series

DURATION: 24 Episodes (600 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Clamp/FUNimation Entertainment

Release Date: May 10, 2011

 

Original Manga by Clamp

Directed by Morio Asaka

Script by Akiko Horii, Genjiro Kaneko, Jukki Hanada, Nanase Ohkawa, Sumio Uetake, Tomoyasu Okubo, Tsuyoshi Tamai

Music by Dan Miyakawa, Katsutoshi Kitagawa, Keitaro Takanami

Character Design by Hisashi Abe

Art Direction by: Chikako Shibata

Anime Production: Madhouse Studios

Featuring the following voice talent:

Rie Tanaka/Michelle Ruff as Chii

Tomokazu Sugita/Crispin Freeman as Hideki Motosuwa

Fumiko Orikasa/Karen Strassman as Yuzuki

Houko Kuwashima/Mona Marshall as Minoru Kokubunji

Isshin Chiba/Ron Allen as Jima

Junichi Suwabe/Terrence Stone as Yoshiyuki Kojima

Kikuko Inoue/Ellen Wilkinson as Chitose Hibiya

Megumi Toyoguchi/Julie Maddalena as Yumi Omura

Motoko Kumai/Sandy Fox as Sumomo

Ryoka Yuzuki/Wendee Lee as Takako Shimizu

Tomokazu Seki/Tony Oliver as Hiromu Shinbo

Yuji Ueda/David Lucas as Hiroyasu Ueda

Yuka Tokumitsu/Midge Mayes as Dita

Yukana Nogami/Kaye Jensen as Kotoko

Tokyo is abuzz with persocoms – humanoid computers that are virtually perfect. The socially and technologically inept Hideki is dying to get his hands on one. When he finds Chi abandoned in the trash, she’s cuter than any current model he’s ever seen, but when he gets her home and turns her on, she has no data and only a single learning program installed. While Hideki puts his whole heart into teaching Chi the ins and outs of humanity, a mystery unfolds as a dark secret within her awakens.

Typically, when you think of CLAMP, the all-female Japanese manga artist group (consisting of Nanase Ohakwa, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi and Satsuki Igarashi), you think of anime series such as “X”, “RG Veda”, “Tokyo Babylon”, “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle”, “Magic Knight Rayearth” and “xxxHolic”.

Often, darker or action-driven popular manga and anime series.  But the group has shown their flair of taking on series that surprise you because they are different from their usual norm such as “Angelic Layer”,  “Cardcaptor Sakura” and their popular 2002 series “Chobits”.

“Chobits” was no doubt a series that was well-loved by CLAMP fans worldwide.  The manga series was first published by Kodansha in Young Magazine from February 2001 to November 2002 and then later received its anime adaptation in 2002 with a 26-episode TV series.

The series which branched off into video games and other merchandise won many fans including inspiring many cosplayers who were fans of the character Chi.

While the series was released by Geneon in seven volumes on DVD, the complete collection has now been released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment in May 2011.

“Chobits” is directed by Morio Asaka (“Cardcaptor Sakura”, “Galaxy Angel”, “Gunslinger Girl”), character designs by Hisashi Abe (“Gunslinger Girl”, “Offside”, “Sorcerer on the Rocks”) and art direction by Chikako Shibata (“Bakuman”, “Azumanga Daioh”, “Gunparade March”, “Durarara!!”).  Anime production is by Madhouse Studios.

“Chobits: The Complete Series” revolves around the character of Hideki Motusawa, a young man who works at his family’s farm in Hokkaidou (northern Japan) who has been trying to get into a university but has gotten rejected.  His dream is to be in Tokyo, so he decides to live in Tokyo to take a prep school in order to get into a university.

But in his first day in the city, he notices how things are much different than in the country, the biggest difference is that people in the city use persocom’s.  Human-like beings that are personal computers that can go on the Internet and do whatever you want as long as you purchase the software.

But for Hideki, living in Tokyo and going to prep school, the price of a persocom is way more than he can afford.

For now, he needs to focus on his school but being a young man, Hideki is also a perverted individual that he thinks about sex and sometimes learns that he talks to himself out loud (which is not a good thing, especially with the perverted things that wander in his mind).  Fortunately, he has made good friends such as Ms. Hibiya, the manager of the place he is staying and also a fellow prep school student named Hiromu Shinbo, who has a mobile persocom named Sumomo.

But one day, after walking home, he sees a persocom thrown in the garbage.  Figuring that he would help out the environment by taking someone’s trash and putting it to good use, Hideki carries the heavy persocom, but unbeknown to the student, the operating system disc has fallen out and to make things even more difficult for Hideki, he knows nothing about technology.

So, as he tries to figure out how to turn on his persocom. And trying to figure out how to turn it on, he realizes that her switch is between her legs and eventually is able to turn on the persocom.  But with a lack of technological and computer know-how, Hideki is unsure why the perscom keeps on saying “Chi!” but he takes it as it being her name.

When Shinbo brings Sumomo to check on Hideki’s persocom by connecting to each other, Sumomo is fried.  How a persocom can turn on and react to situations without a operating system is a surprise, so Shinbo recommends Hideki to see an intelligent young man who builds custom perscom, his name is Minoru Kokubunji.

When Minoru tries to connect three of his perscom to Chi, they are also fried.  But fortunately one of his custom’s barely was able to analyze Chi and to find out that her data is protected.  Minoru theorizes that Chi may be a legendary perscom known as a “Chobits”.  A specialized perscom that can run without software but it’s only a theory based on rumors.  No one knows of any real Chobits.  But Minoru does notice that Chi does learn and perhaps Hideki can teach her things and also gives him advice to not fall for his persocom.

Meanwhile, Hideki does all he can to take care of Chi, from teaching her how to speak, how to shop, how to bathe, thanks to the help of his friends and the Shinbo’s perscom Sumomo, Chi will be learning in no time.  But he also learns that unlike other persocom, Chi requires a lot of energy to recharge and because she requires so much power to maintain, Hideki must take a part-time job to help pay for the wattage and also to take care of Chi.

But one day when Hideki takes her to a book store, she finds a book that interests her.  A book about what happens when a persocom falls in love with its owner and once she does, she will cease to survive.

As Hideki and Chi’s start to care for one another, Hideki knows that falling for Chi is something he has been warned about by Minoru.  But what happens when he cares for her deeply and wants to protect her.

Can a human and a persocom fall in love?

The main characters of “Chobits” are:

  • Hideki Motosuwa – A 19-year-old who is a ronin and trying to get into a university in Tokyo.  He decides to move from his parents farm in Hokkaido to study at a Seki cram school.  Life for Hideki changes when he finds himself a persocom.  A perverted guy, a bit naive but with a heart of gold.
  • Chi – A Chobit, a legendary persocom who is not ran by operating software to learn things.    She is taught by Hideki to understand the world through his eyes and cares deeply for Hideki.
  • Chitose Hibiya (Ms. Hibya) – The landlady of where Hideki is living.  She has a mysterious past that has a connection to CLAMP’s other anime series “Angelic Layer”.
  • Hiromu Shinbo – Hideki’s neighbor and fellow student at the same cram school.  Shinbo helps Hideki understand Tokyo but also what a persocom does and its functions.  Through the help of his mobile persocom named Sumomo, they both help Hideki.
  • Sumomo – Shinbo’s mobile persocom who helps Chi.  A miniature genie like persocom who is very cute, she later is given to Hideki.
  • Minoru Kokubunji – A wealthy 12-year-old genius who builds his own persocom.  Very protective of his custom persocom Yuzuki.  He also helps Hideki in trying to find clues of Chi’s true origin.  Note: Minoru’s late sister is also a tie-in to CLAMP’s “Angelic Layer” series.
  • Takako Shimizu (Ms. Shimizu) – Hideki and Shinbo’s cram school teacher.  She plays an important role in Shinbo’s storyline.
  • Yumi Omura – A 17-year-old girl who’s father owns a Japanese pub, where Hideki works at.  She has an inferiority complex towards persocom.
  • Hiroyasu Ueda – The owner of a bakery known as Chiroru where Chi works at.  He plays a role in Yumi Omura’s storyline.

VIDEO:

“Chobits: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080i High Definition (16×9 SD remaster). It is important to note that this series is from 2002 and while we have seen a classic anime from “FUNimation Entertainment” such as “Yu Yu Hakusho” look vibrant and colorful in HD, “Chobits” is similar to other older TV series in the fact that the colors are not as vibrant in HD  and it is an upconvert.  While the picture quality does look clean in some ways, the colors are not as pronounced or vibrant.

While I didn’t notice any banding or major artifacting, I will say that this older anime TV series definitely looks much better than other series that have appeared on Blu-ray from FUNimation Entertainment.

I didn’t notice any discolorations or any dust/scratches or any major blemishes but you can tell it is an older anime series from its visual presentation as it doesn’t have the colors, sharpness as a newer anime series but still, because of its upconvert fans of the anime series may want to consider upgrading their copy from DVD to Blu-ray.  Otherwise, if you are only interested in HD-native anime series, “Chobits” may not be to your liking.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Chobits: The Complete Series” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD. 2.0.  The first time I was exposed to “Chobits” was in Japanese and have watched the series previously in Japanese, which the voice acting is well-done.  But watching the English dub version, I actually felt that the English dubbing was able to bring out the pervertedness of Hideki much more effectively.  Also, the voice acting in English for Chi was well-done, actually the entire English dubbing for the series was good and whichever language you select, I’m quite sure that Japanese or English voice dub fans should be happy.

While a 2.0 soundtrack, definitely not an immersive soundtrack but the dialogue, music and effects are quite clear through the front channels.  For a more immersive soundtrack, if you have a modern receiver, selecting stereo on all channels was my preference.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

  • Shinbo & Sumomo Chat – (23:52) The episode is consider episode 8.5 (a recap episode).  In this episode, Sumomo is low on space and Shinbo must decide what content to erase and thus recalling certain events in the series.
  • Preview – (:41) The preview for episode 9.
  • Minoru & Yuzuki Chat – (23:52) Considered to be episode 16.5 (a recap episode).  Minoru and Yuzuki try to look into who Chi may really be and who is the creator of the Chobits.  And both talk about when they first met Chi.
  • Preview – (:41) A preview for episode 17.
  • Hibiya & Kotoko Chat – (23:53) Considered to be episode 24.5 (a recap episode).  A recap of all episodes which will lead to the final episode.  This one features Hibiya and Kotoko.
  • Chibits Special – (5:59) A short OAV in which Hibiki has forgotten his wallet and Chi must give it back to him.  But Hibiya and Kotoko has realized Chi has forgotten her underwear.
  • Textless Opening Song – Featuring the textless opening songs for the series.
  • Textless Closing Song – Featuring the textless ending themes for the series.
  • Trailers – Funimation Entertainment Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Chobits: The Complete Series” comes with a cardboard slipcase.

I can easily remember how popular “Chobits” was here in America.

Each time I went to a convention, you would see many Chi cosplayers, all you would hear about was Chi and when there were many anime magazines in the US at the time, Chobits would grace the front cover.  This is a testament to the popularity of the anime series.

Personally for me, I actually found the concept of “Chobits” quite intriguing, especially today when you hear about hardcore Japanese otaku falling in love with their Nintendo DS “Love Plus” characters and even one man going as far to wed his virtual bride.

I suppose when I think about it, what I enjoyed about “Chobits” is that it did not have the banality of the usual anime series in terms of the concept but it does have the elements of struggling student, a student who is perverted and for a CLAMP series, “Chobits” was surprisingly perverted but instead of staying the same way episode-after-episode, you do get moments of drama and eventually you start to learn the backstory of the some of the characters.

But how the series was written and seeing Hideki and Chi evolve from the moment he found her to him actually really caring for her was fun.  In fact, episode after episode, you can’t help but keep watching because the storyline, the characters were so enjoyable.  CLAMP fans will definitely like the “Angelic Layer” tie-in to the series and for the most part, will enjoy the how each of the characters are also given character building storylines.  So, if you are a fan of Shinbo, Ms. Hibiya, Ms. Shimizu, Yumi or Ueda-san, you will get to know more about their background as well.

As for the Blu-ray release, as mentioned, those who are purists to original HD native anime series may not like “Chobits” because it’s an older series that is not HD native.  It’s 1080i and is an upconvert.  But those who want an enjoyable series and love “Chobits” will no doubt enjoy this anime release as it its a major upgrade to the series.

Also, another positive to this Blu-ray release is that it comes with the three recap episodes plus the mini-OAV.

Although rated TV 14, there were situations like turning on Chi by putting one’s fingers between her legs to seeing Hideki being turned on when Chi splashes milky liquid (yogurt?) on her face.  So, there are sexual themes in the series and definitely not the type of anime to watch around younger children.

Overall, “Chobits” is an enjoyable anime series and a welcomed addition to FUNimation Entertainment’s anime classics on Blu-ray.  Also, giving fans a chance to own every episode on Blu-ray versus having to buy multiple volumes like in the past.  It’s definitely a worthy upgrade if you were a fan of the series and owned it previously on DVD and for a CLAMP series, “Chobits” is definitely one of the more accessible series from them.

It is important to note that for those who had their first introduction to CLAMP via “Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle”, this is not the same type of series.  While it does have sci-fi elements, this is not an action-adventure anime series.  You can call it a lighthearted/perverted romantic comedy if you want.  But I still recommend it as it is quite different from what has been offered on Blu-ray thus far here in the U.S.

Enjoyable, perverted but yet highly entertaining, “Chobits” is indeed an anime classic worth catching on Blu-ray!

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