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Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The exciting, action-packed finale of “Blue Exorcist” is here! Twin brothers, Rin and Yukio must join forces in confronting their demonic father, Satan! “Blue Exorcist” turned out to be an exciting, action-packed series that I highly recommend! And for fans, “Blue Exorcist: Limited Edition Blu-ray Set II” is definitely worth owning!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © 2009 by Kazue Kato/SHUEISHA, Blue Exorcist Committee, MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 1

YEAR: 2017

DURATION: (Episodes 1-6) 147 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: November 14, 2017


Based on the manga by Kazue Kato

Directed by Koichi Hatsumi

Series Composition by Toshiya Ono

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano, Kohta Yamamoto

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Bryce Papenbrook as Rin Okumura

Jun Fukuyama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Yukio Okumura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Shiemi Moriyama

Kazuya Nakai/Kyle Hebert as Ryūji Suguro

Ayahi Takagaki/Stephanie Sheh as Kuro

Eri Kitamura/Kira Buckland as Izumo Kamiki

Hiroshi Kamiya/Sam Regal as Mephisto Pheles

Keiji Fujiwara/Kirk Thornton as Shirō Fujimoto

Koji Yusa as Renzō Shima

Rina Satou/Wendee Lee as Shura Kirigakure

Tetsuya Kakihara/Darrel Guilbeau as Amaimon

Yuuki Kaji as Konekomaru Miw


Blue Exorcist, the manga by Kazue Kato which has surpassed 15 million copies in sales. Following a TV anime series and a theatrical film, the long-awaited new series has come back! Set in Kyoto, a new chapter of Blue Exorcist is about to begin…

Born the spawn of Satan, Rin Okumura decides to hide his origins, and become an exorcist. He enrolls at the Exorcism Cram School, a training institute for exorcists located on the True Cross Academy grounds. But, his cover is blown during an attack by Amaimon, the King of Earth, and he is revealed to be the son of Satan. Terrified of Satan’s blue flames, his friends start to distance themselves from Rin…

It is then that someone steals the Left Eye of the Impure King, sealed away in the deepest part of the academy, and Rin and the others find themselves embroiled in an unexpected crisis…


Nearly six years since “Blue Exorcist” first aired on Japanese television, now the 12-episode anime series “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” has aired in Japan and will now be released on Blu-ray in the U.S. courtesy of Aniplex of America, Inc.

In the “Kyoto Saga”, Rin’s secret that he is the son of Satan has been exposed and for some his friends, they realize that Rin is the son of the demon that killed their family and friends.  And because of Rin showed signs of trying to use his power against evil, to be used as a weapon if his father was to reappear, he has been given a second chance.  Mess up and he will be executed.

Meanwhile, the “Left Eye of the Impure King”, a demon relic was stolen from True Cross Academy.  And now someone is trying to steal the right eye…who among the Myoda sect are responsible?

What is the secret to Rin’s sword and how did his father come to acquire it?  And can Rin stay out of trouble to prevent being executed?

Find out in “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” vol. 1!

So, What is “Blue Exorcist”?

“Ao no Exorcist” (Blue Exorcist) is an anime adaptation of a manga series written and illustrated by Kazue Kato, a mangaka who won a Tenkaichi Manga Award back in 1999 at the age of 19 and won a Tezuka Award in 2000 for his manga “The Witch and the Rabbit”. Kato is also known for his 2006 manga series “Robot Usakichi” (Space Traveler Robo & Usakichi).

“Blue Exorcist” was serialized on Jump Square Magazine by Shueisha since April 2009 and is still an ongoing manga series (as of January 2012, there have been a total of 30 chapters released).

With the popularity of the manga series, an anime adaptation was produced by A-1 Pictures with Hitoshi Okamura as the producer. The series began back in April 2011 and 25-episodes have aired in Japan. And now the second setof “Blue Exorcist” was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

The series revolves around a hotheaded teenager named Rin Okumura. Both he and his brother Yukio have been raised by Father Fujimoto at the Cross Academy Town – Southern Cross Boys Monastery. While Yuki shows great intelligence and is attending school at True Cross Academy to become a doctor, Rin is quite the opposite. He tends to get himself in trouble, fights a lot and is continually told by Father Fujimoto to find a job.

Unfortunately for Rin, finding and holding onto a job is difficult. But one day, while working at a supermarket, he sees a monster in a girl’s scarf. He tells Father Fujimoto of what he has seen and Father Fujimoto starts to fear that something is happening. One day, Rin encounters a group of thugs and its leader that he had beaten up earlier and suddenly sees him turn into a demon. The demon tells Rin that satan is waiting for him and immediately, Father Fujimoto is there to save him and exorcise the demon. Fortunately, Father Fujimoto is there to help but it is all revealed to Rin about why he can see monsters.

It’s the fact that he is not truly human. He is the son of a human woman and satan. And the monsters he have seen, it is explained to Rin that in the world, there is Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Both are not supposed to come in contact with each other but they have and as an exorcist, it is his duty to send the demons back to where they belong. And satan wants to reunite with his son.

To protect Rin, Father Fujimoto gives him the Kamkakushi key, so he can hide anything. And he is also given the Koma Sword, a magic sword passed down from generation to generation and a sword where Rin’s powers have been sealed since birth. Rin’s flame resides inside the sword and is sealed by the scabbard. If he draws it, he will assume his demonic nature and will never be able to live as a human again.

One day, he and Father Fujimoto try to prepare for an imminent attack and tells Rin that he must seek shelter where satan can’t get to him but Rin takes it as his father trying to get rid of him forever. In return, Rin said some hurtful things to Father Fujimoto and the pain that Father Fujimoto felt was enough for satan, the demon to possess him.

Satan shows up to claim his son and attacks Father Fujimoto. Satan reveals that he created Rin from a human woman in order to create a container that would be powerful enough to hold him.

But it’s something that Father Fujimoto will not let happen to the boy, he looked at as a son. In order to save Rin, Father Fujimoto risks his own life to keep satan away and is killed in the process.

Now Rin mourns for the one person he knew as his father and when Mephisto Pheles, a friend of Father Fujimoto comes to visit, he tells him that they represent the Knights of the True Cross and they exorcise demons. And Rin has two choices, they will kill him, or he kills the demons. Instead, Rin tells him that he could care less about being human or a demon, he wants to become an exorcist like Father Fujimoto and avenge him and that means defeating his own father.

So, from that point on, Rin must be trained to become an exorcist and will have to follow special rules (which includes not revealing his true nature). But the first thing that he will need to do is enroll at the same school that his brother Yukio attends. When Rin sees his brother, Yukio is in the top of the class and that he is a special leader that people follow at the school and he is no longer the scrawny younger brother he once knew.

As Rin is now a student at the Knights of the True Cross, many of the elders are not too thrilled because Rin is the son of Satan and because Rin tends to be more of a hothead, they are not too sure if he can fit into the Academy.  But Rin is determined to make good on his promise to his deceased father and to protect people, but most of all, to kill satan.

The story continues as Rin continues to study along with his classmates and each are trying to be Esquires, in order to take on various missions.  But others at the Academy and the higher ups want to test Rin and find out if he is a person that can be taught and eventually fight with the other exorcists in defeating demons and satan himself.

While people question a demon being an exorcist, for Rin, he makes a goal that one day, he will become a Paladin (highest level of exorcism) like his adoptive father, Father Shiro and prove that because he is satan’s son, that having a caring father like Shiro can make a big change in the life of a person, even if they are a demon.


“Blue Exorcist” features the following characters:

  • Rin Okamura – The main protagonist.  The son of Satan but born from a human mother.  He and his brother Yukio are twins but he inherited his father’s powers.  Rin’s power was sealed inside a sword by Mephisto Pheles, so he can live a human life.  Rin was raised by the priest Shiro Fujimoto as normal humans with compassion and love.  Despite getting into a lot of trouble and his abilities tend to be more of fighting or cooking, since discovering his power and identity, he vows to use his power to avenge his adoptive father Shiro Fujimoto’s death and defeat Satan.  He vows to attend True Cross Academy and do all it takes to become a Paladin and a “Meister” (Knight).  Rin also has taken in a dog demon (Cat Sith) which he names Kuro.
  • Yukio Okamura – The son of Satan but born from a human mother.  Unlike Rin he did not inherit Satan’s powers.  Known as the intellectual person of the family, unbeknown to Rin was that he has been secretly trained to become an exorcist since the age of seven in order to protect his brother.  So, now he is an instructor at True Cross Academy and responsible for looking after his brother.  But he harbors a secret…dark spots are starting to appear on his body which Yukio has told no one about, despite being tested daily if Satan’s power is in him.
  • Mephisto Pheles – The Chairman of True Cross Academy.  He and Shiro Fujimoto worked together in order to seal Rin’s power and make him human.  Mephisto is a powerful exorcist but because he is a demon, many do not believe him while others believe he has proven he is on the side to fight against Satan.
  • Ryuji Suguro – Also known as “Bon” to his classmates.  He has a high temper and is often fighting and arguing with Rin.  But despite his attitude, he is the best student in the class and dedicated to his studies.  Part of his drive is because Satan destroyed his family temple.
  • Shiemi Moriyama – The daughter of a woman who runs an exorcist-only shop.  She lacks confidence and she is quite sheltered (having lived with her grandmother and her only friends were plants) but when given the chance to meet and make friends at True Cross Academy, being in school gives her a new lease on life.   It appears that both Rin and Yukio may have feelings towards her.  Shiemi is a tamer and can summon a greenman spirit to produce herbs and barriers.
  • Izumo Kamiki – She always has a cold attitude and known for her eyebrows.  The only friend she is close to is her best friend Paku but slowly (very slowly), she is starting to befriend her classmates.  She can summon two Baykko (foxes) to fight.
  • Konkomaru Miwa – Very smart but very shy.  He is the strategist and is loyal to his best friend Ryuji and Renzo, since they grew up at the same temple that was destroyed.  His parents were killed by Satan.
  • Renzo Shima – Carefee, loves to flirt with girls (especially Paku and Izumi) but has a major phobia of insects.  He also grew up with Ryuji and Konekomaru.  Renzo carries a K’rik staff to fight.
  • Shura Kirigakure – The carefree, hardly wears anything, loves alcohol, upper first class exorcist who was asked by priest Shiro Fujimoto to train Rin and help him become a “Meister”.  She can draw a demon sword from her chest and  stomach and is an excellent fighter.
  • Shiro Fujimoto – The priest of Southern Cross Monastery who raised both Yukio and Rin as a loving father.  He is a Paladin in the True Cross Order and was the strongest exorcist.  Was thought to be the only man who could not be possessed by Satan but after an argument with Rin (and Rin saying some hurtful things) which shocked Shiro, it was enough time for Satan to possess Shiro.  In order to protect himself from hurting Rin and Yukio, Shiro sacrificed himself.

VIDEO:

“Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9 Widescreen). The anime production is well-done. The surrounding environments are well-detailed, painted nicely, while the character designs are vibrant, clear and just gorgeous on Blu-ray!

If anything, character designer Keigo Sasaki (“Night Raid 1931″, “Sengoku Basara”) does a great job of bringing the characters from Kazue Kato’s manga series to life, while art director Mahot Takahashi (“Pumpkin Scissors”, “Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee”, “Tokko”) did a wonderful job in bringing the series to life with the scenery and painted backgrounds.

Animation is vibrant, colorful and the series looks great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Blue Exorcist” is presented in English Linear PCM Stereo and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo with English subtitles. Audio is clear coming from the front channels. Japanese voice acting for the series is excellent! I personally had my receiver set to stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack. But dialogue is understandable and English subtitles are easy to read.

As for the English dub track, the overall acting is good but it’s once again an action series with Johnny Yong Bosch as the lead character. For the most part, the voice acting by the English dub staff is very good.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 1” comes with the Japanese PV’s, trailers and textless opening and closing themes.

EXTRAS:

“Blue Exorcist:Kyoto Saga” comes with a 38-page booklet and comes with three collectable postcards.


I’ve always enjoyed “Blue Exorcist” from the manga and the original series and Rin and his brother Yukio trying to keep a secret that they are the children of Satan.  While Rin is the primary one who has the blue flames and literally needs to control his power or he will become a demon.  While Yukio looks like the level-headed, intelligent brother but in reality, he is trying to hid something dark within him.

As “Kyoto Saga” takes place after Rin’s secret is revealed, his friends are starting to treat him differently.  Primarily because his father is the one who slaughtered their friends or family and for some, having a friend who can turn to evil is not easy for them.

So, for Rin, what matters most is trying to control his power and try not to get in trouble or else face the consequence and that is execution.

For “Kyoto Arc”, there is a new nemesis and one who is trying to revive the Impure King by stealing its left and right eye and to return it back to the demon.  Who is responsible?  And what is the secret of Rin’s sword and how did his father come to acquire it?  All this is revealed in first volume of this saga!

The series has developed quite well in terms of storyline pacing, animation, voice acting and just overall enjoyment and the second season is consistent.  There is a lot of action, humor and drama, especially as Rin is dragged into things and his anger tends to get the best of him.

As for the overall series, the character designs are actually pretty cool, especially the costume designs for the characters. Also, the art backgrounds for this series is nicely detailed and range from pastels to really vibrant colors. Something you typically don’t see in a TV Series.

“Blue Exorcist” has a good balance of humor, action and an interesting concept in balance with awesome animation and beautiful art backgrounds. While the action may be it a bit too visual for younger anime viewers (as this is suggested for 13 and up), for fans of action-based anime or manga series such as “Naruto” and “Bleach” will find “Blue Exorcist” to their liking.

And once again, with the release of “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga I”, Aniplex of America continues to deliver in terms of swag with a special booklet and collectable postcards.

Overall, “Blue Exorcist” turned out to be an exciting, action-packed series that I highly recommend! And for fans who loved the first season, “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga 1” is definitely worth watching!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Wagnaria!!3 Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

wagnaria3v2-a

“Wagnaria!!3” is delightful and fun! For anime fans looking for a slice-of-life anime series with a lot of comedy and quirky characters, will surely enjoy this third season as characters finally take their feelings for other characters to the next level. Recommended! Recommended!

Purchase from RightStuf

Image courtesy of © Karino Takatsu/SQUARE ENIX, “WANGARIA!!3” Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wagnaria!!3 Vol. 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 8-14 (42-48) (190 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 30, 2016


Originally created by Karino Takatsu

Directed by Yumi Kamakura

Series Composition by Takao Yoshioka

Music by monaca

Character Design by Shingo Adachi

Animation Director: Shingo Adachi

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama as Sōta Takanashi

Kana Asumi as Popura Taneshima

Saki Fujita as Mahiru Inami

Ai Orikasa as Shizuka Takanashi

Akiko Kawase as Maya Matsumoto

Daisuke Ono as Jun Satō

Eri Kitamura as Yachiyo Todoroki

Haruka Tomatsu as Mitsuki Mashiba

Hiroshi Kamiya as Hirōmi Sōma

Jouji Nakata as Hyōgo Otoo

Koji Yusa as Tōru Minegishi

Kumiko Watanabe as Kyōko Shirafuji

Momoko Saito as Nazuna Takanashi

Ryoko Shiraishi as Kazue Takanashi

Ryou Hirohashi as Aoi Yamada

Satoshi Hino as Kirio Yamada

Shizuka Itou as Kozue Takanashi

Yōko Hikasa as Izumi Takanashi

Yūichi Nakamura as Yōhei Mashiba


Sota Takanashi, who loves all things small, one day got invited to work at the family restaurant WAGNARIA by Popura Taneshima, an upperclassman at school. There, he discovered all kinds of eccentric characters that turned his working experience into something unexpected. What kind of dangerous comedy awaits Sota and his coworkers at WAGNARIA today?

On his day off, Sota receives a call from someone called “Minegishi.” Claiming to be under the order of Sota’s mom, “Minegishi” is snooping around for information. Back at WAGNARIA, Sato finally musters up the courage to ask Yachiyo out on a date, but Yachiyo starts acting weird after that. Meanwhile, Sota and Mahiru’s relationship is at an awkward stage after Sota said something. Seeing this happening, Sota’s sister Izumi decides to do something about it. And finally, Yamada reveals the truth about her running away…


For “Wagnaria!!” fans, many have wondered when Jun would finally confess his feelings to Yachiyo.  And when Sota would finally confess his true feelings to Mahiru.

Find out what happens in “Wagnaria!! 3” vol. 2!

What is “Wagnaria!!” about?

In 2005, mangaka Karino Takatsu wrote and illustrated a Japanese four-panel comic strip manga series known as “Working!!” (a.k.a. “Wagnaria!!”).

Serialized in Square Enix’s Young Gangan magazine from 2005-2014, a total of three anime seasons were created in 2010, 2011 and in 2015.

While the first two seasons were released by NIS America, the third season “Wagnaria!!3” was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America.

“Wagnaria!!3” is a series about a group of people who work in the family restaurant, “Wagnaria”.

The characters are:

  • Sota Takanashi – The main character, a 16-year-old high school student who was recruited to work for the restaurant by Popura. He lives with his four sisters (three older and one younger). And because his older sisters have mistreated him, he has a dislike towards older women.  His mother also had him dress like a girl (never bought him boys clothes) and makes him do it and because he crossdresses, his female persona is Kotori.
  • Popura Taneshima – A 17-year-old student who is short and can be clumsy at times.
  • Mahiru Inami – A 17-year-old who works at Wagnaria and has a fear of men (androphobia). She tends to punch any male that comes near her. She has a crush on Sota.
  • Kyoko Shirafuji – The manager of Wagnaria and dependent on her workers, as she is apathetic to it and doesn’t really know how to run it. Nor does she put any work to it.
  • Yachiyo Todoroki – The 20-year-old chief of staff of Wagnaria. She is often seen carrying a katana. She works closely with Jun, unaware that he has a crush on her.
  • Jun Sato – Jun is a chef at Wagnaria and is deeply in love with Yachiyo but not good at expressing his emotions, as he is rather stoic.
  • Hiroomi Soma – Another chef at the restaurant who is easygoing. He often blackmails his fellow co-workers in doing jobs for him.
  • Aoi Yamada – A 16-year-old who is training at the restaurant and often gets in trouble.
  • Hyogo Otoo – The owner of Wagnaria.
  • Maya Matsumoto – An 18-year-old who has a hard time understanding her co-workers.
  • Nazuna Takanishi – Sota’s younger sister. She is volunteering at the restaurant.
  • Kirio Yamada – Aoi’s older brother who has been looking for her. He has a crush on Mahiru.

VIDEO:

“Wagnaria!!3” is presented in 1080p High Definition. animation is good, slightly soft was one can expect form a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the manga series. Cut scenes are well-detailed and emotion is well-captured and scenes are well-acted.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wagnaria!!3” is presented in Japanese Linear PCM Stereo. Dialogue is crystal clear and the voice acting is well-done. It’s important to emphasize that there is no English dub included.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wagnaria!!3” comes with the final special 14th episode.

EXTRAS:

“Wagnaria!!3″ comes with four collectible illustration postcards, a slipcase featuring illustrations by Shingo Adachi and a clear case with 2-sided covers.


For those who like slice of life anime series, will no doubt enjoy “Wagnaria!!3”, a character driven series about a group of people working for a family restaurant.

In season three, characters take the next step in hopes to have relationships with the girls they like.

Jun who has been in love with Yachiyo, decides to ask her out and finally confess his feelings to her. But each time, he made it sound like a joke.  But this time, he really wants Yachiyo to have a relationship with him.  Will he finally confess his true feelings to her?

Meanwhile, Sota and Mahiru seem to have this tension as both like each other but they are not sure about their emotions and how to express them.  But when Sota starts to discover these emotions of love towards Mahiru, his mother comes back in town and once again forces him to dress like a girl.

As for Popura, is she getting shorter?  And why is Kozue feeling lonely?

For the most part, the anime series is fun and entertaining. It’s a slice of life anime series that revolve around the employees at the Wagnaria family restaurant. And the fun hijinks continues, but now we start to see more development with various relationships.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is good, slightly soft was one can expect form a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the manga series. Cut scenes are well-detailed and emotion is well-captured and scenes are well-acted. Lossless audio is primarily Japanese Linear PCM Stereo with no English dub included. Unfortunately, there are no special features.

But being an Aniplex release, you are definitely going to get some swag with this latest release.  You get four collectible illustration postcards, a slipcase featuring illustrations by Shingo Adachi and a clear case with 2-sided covers.

As for the second half of the series, “Wagnaria!!3” finally achieves two major relationships that many fans have wanted to see happen.  And for those who have rooted for Sota and Mahiru and also for Jun and Yachiyo, these final episodes of the third season will no doubt entertain you.

Overall, “Wagnaria!!3” is delightful and fun! For anime fans looking for a slice-of-life anime series with a lot of comedy and quirky characters, will surely enjoy this third season as characters finally take their feelings for other characters to the next level. Recommended!

Purchase from RightStuf

 

Wagnaria!!3 Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

wagnaria3-a

“Wagnaria!!3” is delightful and fun!  For anime fans looking for a slice-of-life anime series with a lot of comedy and characters, will surely enjoy this third season as characters try to take their feelings for other characters to the next level.  Recommended!

Purchase from RightStuf

Image courtesy of © Karino Takatsu/SQUARE ENIX, “WANGARIA!!3” Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wagnaria!!3 Vol. 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-7 (27-34) (166 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: June 28, 2016


Originally created by Karino Takatsu

Directed by Yumi Kamakura

Series Composition by Takao Yoshioka

Music by monaca

Character Design by Shingo Adachi

Animation Director: Shingo Adachi

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama as Sōta Takanashi

Kana Asumi as Popura Taneshima

Saki Fujita as Mahiru Inami

Ai Orikasa as Shizuka Takanashi

Akiko Kawase as Maya Matsumoto

Daisuke Ono as Jun Satō

Eri Kitamura as Yachiyo Todoroki

Haruka Tomatsu as Mitsuki Mashiba

Hiroshi Kamiya as Hirōmi Sōma

Jouji Nakata as Hyōgo Otoo

Koji Yusa as Tōru Minegishi

Kumiko Watanabe as Kyōko Shirafuji

Momoko Saito as Nazuna Takanashi

Ryoko Shiraishi as Kazue Takanashi

Ryou Hirohashi as Aoi Yamada

Satoshi Hino as Kirio Yamada

Shizuka Itou as Kozue Takanashi

Yōko Hikasa as Izumi Takanashi

Yūichi Nakamura as Yōhei Mashiba


Sota Takanashi, who loves all things small, one day got invited to work at the family restaurant WAGNARIA by Popura Taneshima, an upperclassman at school. There, he discovered all kinds of eccentric characters that turned his working experience into something unexpected. What kind of dangerous comedy awaits Sota and his coworkers at WAGNARIA today?

On his day off, Sota receives a call from someone called “Minegishi.” Claiming to be under the order of Sota’s mom, “Minegishi” is snooping around for information. Back at WAGNARIA, Sato finally musters up the courage to ask Yachiyo out on a date, but Yachiyo starts acting weird after that. Meanwhile, Sota and Mahiru’s relationship is at an awkward stage after Sota said something. Seeing this happening, Sota’s sister Izumi decides to do something about it. And finally, Yamada reveals the truth about her running away…


In 2005, mangaka Karino Takatsu wrote and illustrated a Japanese four-panel comic strip manga series known as “Working!!” (a.k.a. “Wagnaria!!”).

Serialized in Square Enix’s Young Gangan magazine from 2005-2014, a total of three anime seasons were created in 2010, 2011 and in 2015.

While the first two seasons were released by NIS America, the third season “Wagnaria!!3” was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America.

“Wagnaria!!3” is a series about a group of people who work in the family restaurant, “Wagnaria”.

The characters are:

  • Sota Takanashi – The main character, a 16-year-old high school student who was recruited to work for the restaurant by Popura.    He lives with his four sisters (three older and one younger).  And because his older sisters have mistreated him, he has a dislike towards older women.
  • Popura Taneshima – A 17-year-old student who is short and can be clumsy at times.
  • Mahiru Inami – A 17-year-old who works at Wagnaria and has a fear of men (androphobia).  She tends to punch any male that comes near her.  She has a crush on Sota.
  • Kyoko Shirafuji – The manager of Wagnaria and dependent on her workers, as she is apathetic to it and doesn’t really know how to run it.  Nor does she put any work to it.
  • Yachiyo Todoroki – The 20-year-old chief of staff of Wagnaria.  She is often seen carrying a katana.  She works closely with Jun, unaware that he has a crush on her.
  • Jun Sato – Jun is a chef at Wagnaria and is deeply in love with Yachiyo but not good at expressing his emotions, as he is rather stoic.
  • Hiroomi Soma – Another chef at the restaurant who is easygoing.  He often blackmails his fellow co-workers in doing jobs for him.
  • Aoi Yamada – A 16-year-old who is training at the restaurant and often gets in trouble.
  • Hyogo Otoo – The owner of Wagnaria.
  • Maya Matsumoto – An 18-year-old who has a hard time understanding her co-workers.
  • Nazuna Takanishi – Sota’s younger sister.  She is volunteering at the restaurant.
  • Kirio Yamada – Aoi’s older brother who has been looking for her.  He has a crush on Mahiru.

VIDEO:

“Wagnaria!!3” is presented in 1080p High Definition. animation is good, slightly soft was one can expect form a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the manga series.  Cut scenes are well-detailed and emotion is well-captured and scenes are well-acted.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wagnaria!!3” is presented in Japanese Linear PCM Stereo.  Dialogue is crystal clear and the voice acting is well-done.  It’s important to emphasize that there is no English dub included.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wagnaria!!3” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Wagnaria!!3″ comes with four collectible illustration postcards, a slipcase featuring illustrations by Shingo Adachi and a clear case with 2-sided covers.


For those who like slice of life anime series, will no doubt enjoy “Wagnaria!!3”, a character driven series about a group of people working for a family restaurant.

In season three, characters take the next step to possibly have relationships.

Jun who has been in love with Yachiyo, decides to ask her out and finally confess his feelings to her.  But will he do it?

Meanwhile, Sota is starting to have some feelings towards Mahiru and is confused by what he is feeling.  Meanwhie, Sota’s older sister Izumi wants Sota to go on a date but who is this girl that wears a bag over her face?

Meanwhile, Kirio finally finds the sister that he has been looking for and it turns out that his sister is Aoi.  Aoi explains to her fellow staff members of why she hasn’t been home.

For the most part, the anime series is fun and entertaining.  It’s a slice of life anime series that revolve around the employees at the Wagnaria family restaurant.  And the fun hijinks continues, but now we start to see more development with various relationships.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is good, slightly soft was one can expect form a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the manga series.  Cut scenes are well-detailed and emotion is well-captured and scenes are well-acted.  Lossless audio is primarily Japanese Linear PCM Stereo with no English dub included.  Unfortunately, there are no special features.

But being an Aniplex release, you get four collectible illustration postcards, a slipcase featuring illustrations by Shingo Adachi and a clear case with 2-sided covers.

As for the first half of the series, “Wagnaria!!3” doesn’t really require knowledge of the series and people can jump into the series without watching the previous two seasons, but you will lose context of various relationships and not have much of the impact, for those who know the history of the characters from the previous two seasons.

Overall, “Wagnaria!!3” is delightful and fun!  For anime fans looking for a slice-of-life anime series with a lot of comedy and characters, will surely enjoy this third season as characters try to take their feelings for other characters to the next level.  Recommended!

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Kingdom: The Complete First Season (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

May 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

kingdom

“Kingdom” is one of the best anime series I have watched in quite some time, and I have to say it is one of the most exciting action-driven anime series I have watched since I have been reviewing anime series since 1993. “Kingdom: The Complete First Season” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Kingdom: The Complete First Season

AIR DATE OF SERIES: 2012-2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-38 (Duration: 975 Minutes, 6 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Japanese Stereo, English Stereo, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 26, 2016


Originally created by Yasuhisa Hara

Directed by Jun Kamiya

Series Composition by Naruhisa Arakawa

Music by Minako Seki

Art Director by Junichi Higashi

Animation Production by Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masakazu Morita/Justin Cook as Ri Shin (Xin)

Jun Fukuyama as Piao/Yin Zing

Junichi Suwabe as Lord Changping

Koji Yusa as Heki

Kouki Miyata as Seikyō

Masaya Takatsuka as Hou Ken

Mie Sonozaki as Yang Duan He (You Tan Hei)

Rie Kugimiya as Karyō Ten

Rikiya Koyama as Ō Ki

Yōko Hikasa as Kyō Kai

Yutaka Nakano as Shōbun-kun


When low-born servant boys Piao and Xin set out to become the world’s greatest war generals, they quickly find themselves caught up in a violent struggle between two noblemen plotting to overthrow the King. After Piao is killed protecting the rightful ruler of the kingdom of Qin, Xin sets out on a campaign for revenge that leads him straight into the fire of war.

Now, with a target on his back and an army of enemies standing in his way, it will be up to a boy with no name and a young king without a throne to return order to their war-torn country in this historical action-drama based on the Tezuka Award-winning manga, Kingdom.


In 2006, mangaka Yasuhisa Hara created his award-winning manga series “Kingdom”.

A fictionalized account of the Warring States period, the series has sold over 20 million copies in 2015 and was the grand prize winner of the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2013.

The anime series adaptation produced by Pierrot aired on NHK in 2012-2013, with a second season having aired in 2013-2014.

And now the first season of “Kingdom” is now available on DVD in the U.S. courtesy of FUNimation.

The anime series begins with the introduction of two war-orphans, Xin and Piao.  Both often training their fighting skills and have their dreams of becoming “Great Generals of the Heavens” in the kingdom of Qin.  But both are peasants and are household slaves.

Xin is more of the hotheaded and blunt of the two, one day while fighting, a minister arrives and gives Piao the opportunity to have a position in the Palace, while Xin who is saddened he would be separated from Piao, knows that if one of them can make their dreams come true to become a general, then their dreams will be fulfilled.

A short time has past and one day, a bloodied and near-death Piao arrives and tells Xin that he must fulfill a mission as he is unable to make it.  Piao tells Xin that an assassin hired by the Cheng Jiao Faction is responsible and that their dreams will now be up to him but he must take a map and fulfill the rest of the mission.  Piao dies and Xin wants revenge on who is responsible for killing him.

Xin is joined by Heliao Dao, the last descendant of her Mountain Tribe, the Kyuumei and has disguised herself as a male.  Both try to find out what happened to Piao and it was learned that the reason why Piao was taken to the palace was to become the body double of King Ying Zheng who was targeted by opposing forces.  A job which Piao was proudly to take.

As Xin takes up the mantle to protect Ying Zheng (in reality, would become the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang and the person responsible for unifying China), the journey of the anime series would show how Xin would develop his skills, learn from the best generals and eventually become a field commander and prepare for his journey to make his dream of becoming a general come true.

But every step of the way, the kingdom of Zhao and their powerful generals are bent on destroying the Qin and their legendary general, Wang Qi.


“Kingdom” consists of:

Xin – The main protagonist.  A young man who dreams of becoming the “World’s Greatest General”.  The story follows this war orphan as he slowly becomes a commander and works and trains to become a general and taking part of many major military campaigns with his “Flying Xin Unit”.

Ying Zheng – The young king of Qin, who looks like Xin’s best friend Piao.  Dreams of uniting China.

Piao – Xin’s childhood friend and he and Xin dream of becoming “Generals of the Heavens”.  One day, he is approached by the minister for a position in the Palace.

Heliao Dao – The last descendant of her Mountain Tribe, the Kyuumei.  She disguises herself as a male and is trying to find her way in the world.  She also has a crush on Xin, who doesn’t know she is a girl.

Changwen-jun – A former warrior and senior adviser of Ying Zheng.

Bi – A loyal subordinate of Changwen Jun and a 1000-man commander.

Qiang Hui – The heir of the legendary assassin clan “Chi You”, only Xin and Dao know that she is female.  A wonderful soldier and strategist.  Obsessed with getting revenge for the one responsible of murdering her sister.

Wang Qi – The legendary Strange Bird general of the Qin Empire and one of the Six Great Generals of Qin who was a general under Ying Zheng’s father.  Responsible for conquering the middle kingdoms and is an excellent warrior and strategist.  He is the mentor of Xin and dreams of uniting China.

Li Mu – The Prime Minister of Zhao and the series primary antagonist.  A brilliant strategist seeking to destroy the Qin.

Pang Nuan – A general for the Zhao, he doesn’t command any troops and proclaims himself “The God of War”.  He is literally a one-man army and has only lost to one man in the past, Wang Qi.


VIDEO :

A fantastic anime series that compliments Yasuhisa Hara’s manga series.  The emotion of the characters are well-displayed, action on the battlefield is wonderfully presented. Colors are vibrant and I really wished this series received a Blu-ray release.  But for the most part, “Kingdom” looks great on DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “Kingdom” is presented in Japanese and English stereo.  Both are well-acted but since I watched the series originally in its Japanese format, I’m a bit more biased towards the Japanese voice acting.  But I’m glad that this series is presented in both Japanese and English and anime action fans can surely enjoy this awesome series.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Kingdom” unfortunately doesn’t come with any special features.


It’s been long time since I have been excited about watching an anime series.

I have been aware of the rave reviews that Yasuhisa Hara’s “Kingdom” manga series had received and watching the anime series, I was in awe of how entertaining this action-driven anime series was.

From its smart display of using strategy of the Qin Empire and its enemies, the storyline is wonderfully written, pacing is excellent and unlike other anime series with plenty of characters, “Kingdom” is not hampered by complicated storylines, too much focus on other characters in order to create filler.

This is a straight-up, action-driven anime series focused on Xin’s learning of the battlefield, growing as a commander and working towards his goal of becoming a general and how he inspires people around him.

When focusing on another character, it gives short glimpses of their past, but never to the point it seems like filler just to extend a battle.  So, for those who are familiar with series such as “Naruto” and “Bleach” and had to wait season after season (several years) just to finish one war, “Kingdom” doesn’t waste any time at all.  And that’s a major plus!

The series also showcases the importance of war, but also how the deaths of comrades lies on the shoulders of generals and episodes show the bonds with a leader and their soldiers.

While the first dozen episodes does a good job of introducing Xin and his temper getting the best of him, but yet showing qualities of a great soldier, it’s the overall pacing of seeing his growth on the battlefield that I found very intriguing, the strategies employed to be fascinating and the storyline is fantastic.

“Kingdom: The Complete First Season” features the first 38 episodes and I can’t wait for season 2.

Presented in both Japanese and English, anime fans who love war and action-driven storylines will enjoy “Kingdom”.  While I wish the anime series was released on Blu-ray, the anime series still looks good on DVD.  There are no special features included.

While not having any special features is unfortunate, the fact that you get all 38-episodes for the first season for this DVD collection at a great price is wonderful!

Overall, “Kingdom” is one of the best anime series I have watched in quite some time, and I have to say it is one of the most exciting action-driven anime series I have watched since I have been reviewing anime series since 1993.

“Kingdom: The Complete First Season” is highly recommended!

Blue Exorcist the Movie: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Blue Exorcist the Movie: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is a magnificent Blu-ray release that fans of the series will love and it’s also one of the most gorgeous anime films on Blu-ray for 2013.  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © Kazue Kato/Shueisha. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Blue Exorcist the Movie: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set

THEATRICAL RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 88 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS 5.1 Master Audio, Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: December 17, 2013

Original Creator: Kazue Kato

Directed by Atsushi Takashi

Script by Reiko Yoshida

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Shinji Kimura

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Yukio Okumura

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Bryce Papenbrook as Rin Okumura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Shiemi Moriyama

Rie Kugimiya/Cassandra Lee as Usamaro

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Todd Haberkorn as Cheng-Long Liu

Kazuya Nakai/Kyle Hebert as Ryūji Suguro

Ayahi Takagaki/Stephanie Sheh as Kuro

Eri Kitamura/Kira Buckland as Izumo Kamiki

Hiroshi Kamiya/Sam Regal as Mephisto Pheles

Keiji Fujiwara/Kirk Thornton as Shirō Fujimoto

Koji Yusa as Renzō Shima

Rina Satou/Wendee Lee as Shura Kirigakure

Tetsuya Kakihara/Darrel Guilbeau as Amaimon

Yuuki Kaji as Konekomaru Miw

When his adopted father, Shiro Fujimoto, was killed by his biological father, Satan, Rin Okumura swore to become an exorcist to avenge Shiro’s death declaring war on his own blood-relatives of the underworld…

Everyone is in the midst of preparing for a festival which is celebrated once every 11 years in True Cross Academy Town. However, behind the scenes in the shadows, a “Phantom Train” goes berserk while the barriers protecting the town from demon intrusions are under repair. Rin, Yukio, and Shiemi are sent to exorcise the Phantom Train, but as usual Rin complicates the situation.

Amidst the chaos, Rin meets a demon in the form of a young boy. Meanwhile, Cheng-Long Liu, a Senior Exorcist First Class from the Taiwan Branch joins Shura in the repair operation and the story takes an unexpected turn as all their fates cross…

This limited edition box set includes a bonus DVD featuring an exclusive staff interview, a deluxe booklet, and exclusive illustration postcards all housed in a rigid box illustrated by Kazue Kato.

The characters of “Blue Exorcist” are back in a brand new movie as chaos comes to the city and Rin meets a demon in the form of a young boy named Usamaro, which the exorcists intends on sealing.   Which puts him and his brother Yukio with two different opinions on how to handle the matter.

An emotional and visually beautiful holiday film, “Blue Exorcist the Movie: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex Inc.

So, What is “Blue Exorcist” about?

“Ao no Exorcist” (Blue Exorcist) is an anime adaptation of a manga series written and illustrated by Kazue Kato, a mangaka who won a Tenkaichi Manga Award back in 1999 at the age of 19 and won a Tezuka Award in 2000 for his manga “The Witch and the Rabbit”. Kato is also known for his 2006 manga series “Robot Usakichi” (Space Traveler Robo & Usakichi).

“Blue Exorcist” was serialized on Jump Square Magazine by Shueisha since April 2009 and is still an ongoing manga series in Japan.

With the popularity of the manga series, an anime adaptation was produced by A-1 Pictures with Hitoshi Okamura as the producer. The series began back in April 2011 and 25-episodes have aired in Japan.

The anime series revolves around a hotheaded teenager named Rin Okumura. Both he and his brother Yukio have been raised by Father Fujimoto at the Cross Academy Town – Southern Cross Boys Monastery. While Yuki shows great intelligence and is attending school at True Cross Academy to become a doctor, Rin is quite the opposite. He tends to get himself in trouble, fights a lot and is continually told by Father Fujimoto to find a job.

Unfortunately for Rin, finding and holding onto a job is difficult. But one day, while working at a supermarket, he sees a monster in a girl’s scarf. He tells Father Fujimoto of what he has seen and Father Fujimoto starts to fear that something is happening. One day, Rin encounters a group of thugs and its leader that he had beaten up earlier and suddenly sees him turn into a demon. The demon tells Rin that satan is waiting for him and immediately, Father Fujimoto is there to save him and exorcise the demon. Fortunately, Father Fujimoto is there to help but it is all revealed to Rin about why he can see monsters.

It’s the fact that he is not truly human. He is the son of a human woman and satan. And the monsters he have seen, it is explained to Rin that in the world, there is Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Both are not supposed to come in contact with each other but they have and as an exorcist, it is his duty to send the demons back to where they belong. And Satan wants to reunite with his son.

To protect Rin, Father Fujimoto gives him the Kamkakushi key, so he can hide anything. And he is also given the Koma Sword, a magic sword passed down from generation to generation and a sword where Rin’s powers have been sealed since birth. Rin’s flame resides inside the sword and is sealed by the scabbard. If he draws it, he will assume his demonic nature and will never be able to live as a human again.

One day, he and Father Fujimoto try to prepare for an imminent attack and tells Rin that he must seek shelter where satan can’t get to him but Rin takes it as his father trying to get rid of him forever. In return, Rin said some hurtful things to Father Fujimoto and the pain that Father Fujimoto felt was enough for Satan, the demon to possess him.

Satan shows up to claim his son and attacks Father Fujimoto. Satan reveals that he created Rin from a human woman in order to create a container that would be powerful enough to hold him.

But it’s something that Father Fujimoto will not let happen to the boy, he looked at as a son. In order to save Rin, Father Fujimoto risks his own life to keep Satan away and is killed in the process.

Now Rin mourns for the one person he knew as his father and when Mephisto Pheles, a friend of Father Fujimoto comes to visit, he tells him that they represent the Knights of the True Cross and they exorcise demons. And Rin has two choices, they will kill him, or he kills the demons. Instead, Rin tells him that he could care less about being human or a demon, he wants to become an exorcist like Father Fujimoto and avenge him and that means defeating his own father.

So, from that point on, Rin must be trained to become an exorcist and will have to follow special rules (which includes not revealing his true nature). But the first thing that he will need to do is enroll at the same school that his brother Yukio attends. When Rin sees his brother, Yukio is in the top of the class and that he is a special leader that people follow at the school and he is no longer the scrawny younger brother he once knew.

As Rin is now a student at the Knights of the True Cross, many of the elders are not too thrilled because Rin is the son of Satan and because Rin tends to be more of a hothead, they are not too sure if he can fit into the Academy. But Rin is determined to make good on his promise to his deceased father and to protect people, but most of all, to kill Satan.

Blue Exorcist The Movie

The movie begins with a story that Rin and Yukio was read by the priest Shiro Fujimoto when they were younger.

The story was about boy who finds a demon and they become friends.  The boy brings the demon back home and everyone in the village becomes friend with the demon and have fun.  But they all forget their duties and when an exorcist comes to the village, the demon is sealed.

Fastforward to the present time, as Yukio, Rin and Shiemi are on a mission to capture a Phantom Train and the True Cross Academy exorcists are on alert as they prepare for a major festival that is held once in every eleven years.  So, the ridding of demons during the festival is very important to protect the city.

As Yuki and Shiemi arrive on the Phantom Train (and Rin is late as usual), Shiemi notices that there are ghosts inside the train and feels the must do something to help them, but Yukio wants her and his twin brother Rin to focus on the mission.  As Yukio takes out the demon, the two just have to pull on the brakes when he tells them.

Unfortunately, as Yukio takes on the demon, Shiemi and Rin try to help out the ghosts as Shiemi wants to use a Chinese lantern to attract them and have them freed.  As Rin goes to check on his brother, Yukio is shocked that Rin abandoned his post and did not follow his instructions.  The demon on the Phantom Train grows and as Rin tries to fight it off, Yukio tries to help Shiemi.

As massive destruction is caused by the demon, Rin manages to cut parts of the sludge demon but fails in stopping it.

Meanwhile, Cheng-Long Liu, an Upper First Class Exorcist from the Taiwan Branch is in the area for a festival but also to help Shura work on an operation.  He wants to meet the twins but while they are completed with their operation, they also see the destruction caused by the demon and seeing the brothers failing their mission.

In the end, the demon escapes and Rin ends up saving some young demon boy that acts wild.

Because of the failure of the mission and the extreme amount of damage caused in the mission, the True Cross Academy Council with Mephisto decide to punish Yukio with a permanent blemish on his once-perfect record and as for Rin and Shiemi, they are suspended for five days.  Upset at Rin, Yukio tells his brother that he must use his five days to catch up on homework and study.

And as for Rin, the demon boy that he found and must be caged, he must take care of him for five days and make sure it doesn’t get into any trouble or else they will seal it.

And at first, the relationship between Rin and the demon boy is a bit complicated as the boy acts wild.  But when Rin offers the boy water, the boy starts to act nicely to Rin and tells him that his name is Usamaro.

Rin then bonds with the demon by bathing him, introducing him to his friends and even cooking his favorite meals for the boy.  Usamaro is happy to be around Rin and instead of caging it, Rin treats Usamaro with respect and has him sleep with him in his bed.

As Usamaro is going through Rin’s box of old toys, he finds the book that Rin and Yukio’s father read to them when they were younger.  As Rin reads the story to Usamaro, Usamaro is upset by the book and tells Rin that it’s not true.

Immediately after, as Rin has to study his homework, Usamaro asks him that if he forgets his homework, would he be much happier.  Rin tells him that he would be much happier and so Usamaro uses his power to feed on a person’s memory, so they can forget it.

When Yukio arrives, he finds Rin and Usamaro sleeping in bed.  Upset that he is not studying and that Usamaro is not in his cage, the two get into an argument and Rin behaves as if he never knew he had to do any homework, which upsets Yukio.

Meanwhile, Rin’s friends and the other exorcists continue to be on high alert in preparation for the festival and are repeatedly getting caught with the remnants of the demons they fight against.  Often having to use Rin’s bath, everyone loves getting together and playing with Usamaro.

But they know they must get back to work and unfortunately miss the festival, because they will be working.

When Usamaro asks if everyone would be happy if they didn’t have to work, everyone tells him that it would be great if everyone in True Cross Academy didn’t have to work.  And so, in order to make his new friends happy, Usamaro uses his power to make everyone in True Cross Academy forget that they have to work.

Not knowing that by having all exorcists forgetting, all demons will begin attacking the city all at once.

And with everyone forgetting about their mission, Yukio, Cheng-Long Liu, Shura and a few others must try to fend off the demons and try to get the exorcists ready for an onslaught of demons that they were supposed to contain and now have headed straight to the city.

“Blue Exorcist the Movie” features the following characters:

  • Rin Okamura – The main protagonist. The son of Satan but born from a human mother. He and his brother Yukio are twins but he inherited his father’s powers. Rin’s power was sealed inside a sword by Mephisto Pheles, so he can live a human life. Rin was raised by the priest Shiro Fujimoto as normal humans with compassion and love. Despite getting into a lot of trouble and his abilities tend to be more of fighting or cooking, since discovering his power and identity, he vows to use his power to avenge his adoptive father Shiro Fujimoto’s death and defeat Satan. He vows to attend True Cross Academy and do all it takes to become a Paladin and a “Meister” (Knight). Rin also has taken in a dog demon (Cat Sith) which he names Kuro.
  • Yukio Okamura – The son of Satan but born from a human mother. Unlike Rin he did not inherit Satan’s powers. Known as the intellectual person of the family, unbeknown to Rin was that he has been secretly trained to become an exorcist since the age of seven in order to protect his brother. So, now he is an instructor at True Cross Academy and responsible for looking after his brother. But he harbors a secret…dark spots are starting to appear on his body which Yukio has told no one about, despite being tested daily if Satan’s power is in him.
  • Usamaro – A demon rabbit who takes the appearance of a human child.  Has the power to eat memories.
  • Cheng-Long Liu – An Upper First Class Exorcist from the Taiwan Branch.
  • Mephisto Pheles – The Chairman of True Cross Academy. He and Shiro Fujimoto worked together in order to seal Rin’s power and make him human. Mephisto is a powerful exorcist but because he is a demon, many do not believe him while others believe he has proven he is on the side to fight against Satan.
  • Ryuji Suguro – Also known as “Bon” to his classmates. He has a high temper and is often fighting and arguing with Rin. But despite his attitude, he is the best student in the class and dedicated to his studies. Part of his drive is because Satan destroyed his family temple.
  • Shiemi Moriyama – The daughter of a woman who runs an exorcist-only shop. She lacks confidence and she is quite sheltered (having lived with her grandmother and her only friends were plants) but when given the chance to meet and make friends at True Cross Academy, being in school gives her a new lease on life. It appears that both Rin and Yukio may have feelings towards her. Shiemi is a tamer and can summon a greenman spirit to produce herbs and barriers.
  • Izumo Kamiki – She always has a cold attitude and known for her eyebrows. The only friend she is close to is her best friend Paku but slowly (very slowly), she is starting to befriend her classmates. She can summon two Baykko (foxes) to fight.
  • Konkomaru Miwa – Very smart but very shy. He is the strategist and is loyal to his best friend Ryuji and Renzo, since they grew up at the same temple that was destroyed. His parents were killed by Satan.
  • Renzo Shima – Carefee, loves to flirt with girls (especially Paku and Izumi) but has a major phobia of insects. He also grew up with Ryuji and Konekomaru. Renzo carries a K’rik staff to fight.
  • Shura Kirigakure – The carefree, hardly wears anything, loves alcohol, upper first class exorcist who was asked by priest Shiro Fujimoto to train Rin and help him become a “Meister”. She can draw a demon sword from her chest and stomach and is an excellent fighter.
  • Shiro Fujimoto – The priest of Southern Cross Monastery who raised both Yukio and Rin as a loving father. He is a Paladin in the True Cross Order and was the strongest exorcist. Was thought to be the only man who could not be possessed by Satan but after an argument with Rin (and Rin saying some hurtful things) which shocked Shiro, it was enough time for Satan to possess Shiro. In order to protect himself from hurting Rin and Yukio, Shiro sacrificed himself.

VIDEO:

“Blue Exorcist the Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition and I must emphasize how this is one of the most beautiful animated films I have seen in my life.

It’s one thing to watch the anime series but what they did for “Blue Exorcist the Movie” was to create this entire city and add plenty of detail of city landscapes, buildings and what one can expect to see in a metropolitan area and make it look so beautiful.    Character animations are well-detailed, shaded and look fantastic.

And that’s not it, they even went as far as to create detail in the festival which is modeled after Chinese-style festivals and the detail of structures, banners or anything related to the parade is highly detailed.  There is no doubt that A-1 Pictures went all out in creating this expansive world for the animated film.  Animated films are always bigger budget, require much more production time and involve a larger staff but the amount of detail put into “Blue Exorcist the Movie” is magnificent.

I detected no banding, no artifacts or any problematic issues with picture quality.  I was very impressed! This is one of the best looking anime films on Blu-ray for 2013, if not the best I have seen for 2013.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Blue Exorcist” is presented in English and Japanese DTS 5.1.  Also, in Japanese LPCM Stereo.

The dialogue, music and special effects are crystal clear through the front and center channels.  Surround channels are utilized during the more action-intense scenes and there is also good use of LFE during various moments of the film.

The soundtrack for both English and Japanese are the same, with obvious dialogue differences between the two.  But for the most part, both Japanese and English dub are well-acted.  Watching the Japanese straight-through, I was wondering how Cassandra Lee would do as Usamaro as Rie Kugimya was fantastic, but for the English dub, Cassandra Lee did a fantastic job.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blue Exorcist the Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary 1 – Featuring audio commentary by Nobuhiko Okamoto (voice of Rin), Hidenobu Kikuchi (Voice of Cheng-Long Liu), director Atsushi Takahashi and A-1 Pictures’ Kenichi Hayashi.
  • Audio Commentary 2 – Featuring audio commentary by Jun Fukuyama (voice of Yukio), Rie Kugimiya (voice of Usamaro), director Atsushi Takahashi and Aniplex Inc.’s Takamitsu Inoue.
  • News  – Featuring “Blue Exorcist the Movie” news, 15 and 30 second spots.
  • Trailers  – Featuring “Blue Exorcist the Movie” news, 15, 30 and 100 second spots.
  • Promotional Video – (1:02) Promotional video for “Blue Exorcist the Movie”.
  • CM – Featuring the Japanese action and emotional commercial versions of “Blue Exorcist the Movie”.
  • English Trailer – (1:44) English theatrical trailer for “Blue Exorcist the Movie”.

Disc 2:

  • Exclusive Staff Interview – (32:24) Interview with Atsushi Takashi (Director), Kenichi Hayashi (Animation Producer) and Takamitsu Inoue (Producer).

EXTRAS:

“Blue Exorcist the Movie” comes with the following extras:

  • Deluxe 32-Page Booklet – Featuring illustrations, image board of the festival, picture book illustrations and artwork.
  • Exclusive Postcard Set – Featuring four “Blue Exorcist the Movie” postcards.
  • Deluxe Box – Featuring a deluxe slipcase illustrated by Kazue Kato

aoi-movie-a

As a fan of the “Blue Exorcist” anime and also manga series, I have been highly anticipating a “Blue Exorcist” film for over a year and now, “Blue Exorcist the Movie” has been released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

The film was a major surprise because I was expecting better production quality, an action film and many characters from the series.

But what I was surprised was how gorgeous the film looked visually.  This is beyond the quality of what we have seen with the TV series as there is tremendous detail when it comes to the landscape of everything you can think of.  Outdoors overlooking the city, the detail of the festival, outside Rin’s home and also inside his home.

It’s one thing to expected better animation, better shading and better fight scenes but “Blue Exorcist the Movie” goes beyond what most action anime series usually do for the film and I have to say it’s one of the my top 3 picks for best looking animated film on Blu-ray for 2013.  This film is absolutely vibrant, colorful and gorgeous.

Another positive for the film is the voice acting.  Having watched the series in Japanese and then most recently with the English dub with the new Aniplex Blu-ray releases, one thing that I loved about the Japanese version of the film is emotion.  This is an emotional film.  A film that features a wide range of emotions from fear, anger, sadness, happiness and quite often, the English dub doesn’t quite have the same emotional level as its Japanese counterpart.

But having watched this film, the English dub voice actors delivered and in this case, Cassandra Lee was able to do a fantastic job with the character of Usamaro.

And what lent to the efficacy of this film was its original story.

Ryota Yamaguchi was able to craft an original story that manages to incorporate many of the characters from the manga/anime series but also introduce new characters.  But most importantly, the film focuses on relationships, we see the difference between Rin and Yukio, as their approach towards demons are quite different from each other.

The film focuses on his relationship with his friends and of course, his acceptance towards the mischievous demon Usamaro.  Others want the demon to be sealed but Rin is one to see the positive aspect of Usamaro earlier on and him wanting to protect it.  But most importantly, knowing himself to be the son of satan and also as a half human and demon, he also believes there are good demons out there and trying to show others how he feels.  Despite how unpopular it is for an exorcist who’s sole job is to rid of demons.

But overall, the story for this film was well-crafted, not to say that other anime films are not, but typically many anime films based on an action-film are merely non-canon popcorn action films and a storyline that most often, you don’t find yourself coming back to.  In the case of “Blue Exorcist the Movie”, it’s a very good film that I can find myself watching again and again.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and the lossless soundtrack is well-done, with crystal clear dialogue, music and special effects.  Surround channels are used and I did hear moments of LFE utilization during the more action-driven scenes as well.

And as always, with Aniplex releases, you are usually used to Aniplex swag and in this case, you get a limited edition Blu-ray box set featuring illustrated art by Kazue Kato (the author of the manga series) with a 32-page booklet, exclusive postcard set, a bonus DVD featuring an exclusive staff interview and two audio commentary tracks and more.

Overall “Blue Exorcist the Movie: Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is a magnificent Blu-ray release that fans of the series will love and it’s also one of the most gorgeous anime films on Blu-ray for 2013.

Highly recommended!

Nyan koi!: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Review)

December 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

nyankoi-a

“Nyan Koi!” is an entertaining anime series.  I enjoyed it so much that I watched it all in one setting.  There is a good amount of comedy, drama and fan-service and I have no doubt that this series will go over well with anime fans.  If you love “harem anime”, definitely give “Nyan Koi!” a try!

Image courtesy of © SATO Fujiwara – FlexComix/”NYANKOI” Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Nyan koi!: Complete Collection

ANIME SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2009

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 LD

Release Date: December 31, 2013

Originally created by Sato Fujiwara

Director: Keiichiro Kawaguchi

Series Composition: Shinichi Inotsume

Music: Manabu Miwa, Shigenobu Ookawa

Character Design: Kazuaki Morita

Art Director: Naoko Kosakabe

Chief Animation Director: Yukie Sako

Animation Production: AIC

Featuring the following voice talent:

Shintaro Asanuma/Connor Leach as Junpei Kōsaka

Yuka Iguchi/Lesley Pedersen as Kaede Mizuno

Atsuko Tanaka/Marcy Bannor as Nyamsas

Eri Nakao/Meg McDonald as Suzu Kōsaka

Haruka Tomatsu/Emily Neves as Kotone Kirishima

Haruka Tomatsu/Cynthia Martinez as Akari Kirishima

Jun Fukuyama/Greg Ayres as Haruhiko Endou, Tama

Juurouta Kosugi/Andrew Love as Keizou Kirishima

Koji Yusa/Sam Roman as Josephine

When cat-allergic Junpei Kosaka damages a statue of a cat deity, the cats don’t just get his tongue, they put theirs in his mouth! Now cursed with the ability to understand felines, Junpei must perform one-hundred great favors for cat-kind or face the fate of being turned into a cat himself.

Life quickly becomes a purrfect hell as every cat in the neighborhood starts sending Junpei their list of “requests.” And if the kitties weren’t already whipping him into a cat-atonic stupor, the women in his life are making things even worse. His sister, mom, and the girl he has secret feelings for are all cat-crazy; the local Yakuza’s daughter is playing cat and mouse; the local cat-owning monk’s daughters are acting catty; and Junpei’s childhood best friend is ready to use him as a scratching post!

In 2007, the manga “Nyan Koi!” by Sato Fujiwara was serialized in the free web comic “FlexComix Blood” and two years later, the manga receives its anime adaptation from AIC and makes its Blu-ray debut in the US courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series is directed by Keiichiro Kawaguchi (Kowarekake no Orgel”, “Sket Dance”, “Hayate the Combat Butler”), screenplay by Shinichi Inotsume (“Kowarekake no Orgel”, “Hayate the Combat Butler”, “Sket Dance”) and features music by Manabu Miwa and Shigenobu Ookawa.  Character designs are by Kazuaki Morita (“My Bride is a Mermaid”, “Tentai Senshi Sunred”) and art direction by Naoko Kosakabe (“NieA 7″, “Kissxsis”, “Jinki: Extend”).

“Nyan Koi!” is a series about a high school sophomore named Junpei Kosaka and he is allergic to cats.  So, much that he hates them and one day, he thinks he hears his cat Nyamsus talking to him but dismisses it.

As for Junpei, he is always dreaming about his friend Kaede Mizuno and wishes he can get closer to her.  One day, while he was walking home from school, Junpei kicks a can and it hits a neko-jizo-sama statue (a cat statue that serves as a guardian deity of cats).  Having broken the cat statue, now Junpei is forced to grant 100 wishes to cats and if he doesn’t do it, he will turn into a cat which will eventually kill him because of his allergy towards cats.

And to remind him and watch over him is his family cat Nyamsus who tries to make sure Junpei know of his curse.

So, Junpei will do all he can to help cats, even though he dislikes them.  But along the way, each time he helps the cats, he encounters other girls who start to take a liking towards him (and in the process, making other girls jealous) because of the attention he is starting to receive.

The main characters of “Nyan Koi!” are:

  • Junpei Kosaka – The main protagonist who is allergic to cats.  His mom and sister love cats despite him hating them.  One day, he kicks a can and destroys a cat deity statue and in order to make up for the damage, he must fulfill 100 requests from different cats (that he can communicate with) or else he will turn into a cat and die from his allergy.   He is in love with Kaede but starts to find himself learning that other girls he comes in contact with start to like him as well.
  • Kaede Mizuno – Junpei’s classmate and the girl he has always had a crush on.  But she is so naive that she doesn’t know he has feelings for her.  She loves cats but because she has four dogs, cats tend to stay away from her.
  • Kanako Sumiyoshi – Kanako is a classmate who dresses up ala Manba (very dark make up) and tries to be tough.  But her being a manba is to stop her from crying all the time because when she and Junpei were young (and would always hang out), Junpei avoided her feelings towards her and displayed it to another female classmate and since then, she has carried a grudge towards him and hates him.  But because one of the cats she is taking care of asks for Junpei’s help, Junpei must become friends with Kanako.
  • Chizuru Mochizuki – A college student who works as a mail carrier.  She is bad with directions and is always lost but when cats lead Junpei to her, he ends up helping several cats and also helping Chizuru in the process.
  • Nagase Ichinose – Kaede’s senior who is on the track team and daughter of a powerful Yakuza family.  She is quite masculine and thus is rejected because everyone thinks she is a guy.  She is quite protective of Kaede and despises Junpei because she thinks he is not good for Kaede.  Despite being strong and athletic, she has one weakness and it’s lightning.   She has problems with soft drinks which make her drunk.  One day, when Junpei helps her, she starts to have feelings towards him.
  • The Kirishima sisters (Kotone & Akari) – Kotone and Akari are twin sisters and the daughters of Keizou Kirishima, the Buddhest monk from the temple where Junpei  destroyed the statue of the cat deity.  Kotone likes Junpei because he always has bad luck and gets very jealous if Junpei is with another girl.  Akari senses the supernatural and is very protective of her older twin sister Kotone.

“Nyan Koi!” is 12-episodes long and is presented on two Blu-ray discs.  Here is a basic synopsis of each episode:

  • EPISODE 1 – The Scruffy Cat and the Cursed High Schooler – Junpei is a high schooler who is allergic to cats.  So, allergic that he hates them.  But after he breaks a cat statue, now he is cursed and if he doesn’t want to turn into a cat and die from his allergies, he must perform 100 favors for cats.
  • EPISODE 2 – That Man is a Manservant? – Junpei must help a cat which leads him to his childhood friend and now a girl that despises him, Kanako Sumiyoshi.
  • EPISODE 3 – Your Name Is… – A college student/postal carrier named Chizuru Mochizuki is bad with directions and a cat leads Junpei to help her out.
  • EPISODE 4 – Beautiful People – A cat owned by tomboy Nagi Ichinose leads Junpei to her.  But Nagi despises Junpei because of his friendship with Kaede.
  • EPISODE 5 – Times Square – Junpei goes to the amusement park with Kaede, Kanako and Nagase but will Junpei be able to get close to Kaede with the other two girls around?  Meanwhile, Kaede may have found out the truth about Junpei’s curse.
  • EPISODE 6 – Milk and Bitters and Sugar and Spice – Kaede meets two twins Akari and Kotone Kirishima who know about his curse.  Meanwhile, Kotone is infatuated with Junpei, while her sister is overprotective of her.
  • EPISODE 7 – Wait Until Dark – Junpei is getting prepared to go on a school trips to Kyoto with his classmates.  Also, Ichinose’s family in Kyoto will be having a meeting to decide who will be Nagase’s husband.
  • EPISODE 8 – The Passionate Private Running Coach – Junpei goes to help the next cat in need, but when he forgets to help the cat…the cat wants revenge on Junpei.
  • EPISODE 9 – Girls in the Water – The group goes out to swim but Junpei is sick and Kanako wants to take care of him.
  • EPISODE 10 – As it happened One Night – The Kirishima twins are counting on Junpei to help them deal with a spirit.
  • EPISODE 11 – Friends – It’s almost Christmas time and Junpei and Kanako spend time together.
  • EPISODE 12 – Does Heaven Await Me? – Kaede is suspicious of Junpei and Junpei must find a way to convince her that nothing bad is going on or else the curse will consume him.

VIDEO:

“Nyan Koi! – Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The animation tends to change from very cutesy style of anime that will appeal to the fans who love cute characters, especially for the cats and then shifting to normal anime style.  Character designs are well-done, especially the closeups.  The background art tends to differ depending on the scene with some look quite simple to others looking a bit more detailed.  I did notice more background art being used in the second half of the series and for the most part, I really enjoyed the character designs for this anime series.  For the most part, the animation and art backgrounds for “Nyan Koi!” are very good.  The colors for “Nyan Koi!” are quite vibrant and for the most part, animation is up-to-par with other TV anime related series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Nyan Koi!” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  Voice acting is well done for this series.  I felt that Shintaro Asanuma did a great job with the voice of Junpei, very cool, deep voice.  Meanwhile, the voice actress such as Yuka Iguchi as Kaede, Ryoo Shiraishi as Kanako and Haruka Tomatsu as the twins, all did a fantastic job.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Nyan Koi!: Complete Collection” comes with clean opening and closing animation.

“Nyan Koi!” is quite an interesting harem anime series.  Despite the usual storyline of all females starting to like a certain guy, Junpei is an interesting character as his interest is primarily on Kaede and the only reason he was nice to the other girls was because of their cats and his obligation to grant 100 wishes for the cats or else he will turn into one and die from his allergy.  It’s a bit twisted in a way but “Nyan Koi!” is a pretty fun anime series.

Each episode is connected to each other, so there is no worry of filler episodes.  Each episodes tend to focus on Junpei fulfilling the 100 wishes but at the same time, these episodes also build upon him trying to get close to Kaede but yet the others also wanting to get closer to Junpei and we get to see him starting to care for the others but yet the writers finding ways to tease you in regards to Junpei and Kaede’s friendship and how close they will get.

But each of the characters are quite fun to watch and it does make me wonder how much crazier the actual manga gets and how many more girls are introduced to this whole harem mix.  But because this series alone focuses on not too many characters, each episode does feature plots that further the character development, relationships and jealousies that exist.  But it all comes together quite nicely.

As mentioned earlier, this is an anime series that tends to go from serious to a cutesy style but by no means is this an anime series for young children.    Yes, it does have many cute moments but it’s also important to note that while the series doesn’t feature any nudity, there is some perverted humor as characters such as Kanako Sumiyoshi (who has big breasts) tends to jiggle wherever she goes and Nagi Ichinose has this thing about grabbing on Kanako’s breast.  Also, a few pantie shots that show up form time to time. So, there is some perverted humor in this series but nothing that tends to overshadow the whole storyline.

As for the Blu-ray, you do get 12 episodes and the vibrant animation is quite pleasing.  The only downer is the lack of special features but unfortunately, with TV series, it’s becoming more of a common place to not see much special features on anime on DVD these days, “Nyan Koi!” is no different.

As for those who are video or audiophiles, it’s great to see that Sentai Filmworks bring out a Blu-ray release to the US and also give the series an all-new English dub track.

But overall, “Nyan Koi!” is an entertaining anime series.  I enjoyed it so much that I watched it all in one setting.  There is a good amount of comedy, drama and fan-service and I have no doubt that this series will go over well with anime fans.  If you love “harem anime”, definitely give “Nyan Koi!” a try!

Blue Exorcist: Limited Edition Blu-ray Set II (a J!-eNT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

blueexorcist-2

The exciting, action-packed finale of “Blue Exorcist” is here!   Twin brothers, Rin and Yukio must join forces in confronting their demonic father, Satan!  “Blue Exorcist” turned out to be an exciting, action-packed series that I highly recommend!  And for fans, “Blue Exorcist: Limited Edition Blu-ray Set II” is definitely worth owning!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © 2009 by Kazue Kato/SHUEISHA, Blue Exorcist Committee, MBS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Blue Exorcist: Limited Edition Blu-ray Set II

YEAR: 2011

DURATION: (Episodes 13-25) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: September 10, 2013

Based on the manga by Kazue Kato

Directed by Tensai Okamura

Series Composition by Ryota Yamaguchi

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Masatoshi Kai

Chief Animation Director: Keigo Sasaki

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Yukio Okumura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Shiemi Moriyama

Kazuya Nakai/Kyle Hebert as Ryūji Suguro

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Bryce Papenbrook as Rin Okumura

Ayahi Takagaki/Stephanie Sheh as Kuro

Eri Kitamura/Kira Buckland as Izumo Kamiki

Hiroshi Kamiya/Sam Regal as Mephisto Pheles

Keiji Fujiwara/Kirk Thornton as Shirō Fujimoto

Koji Yusa as Renzō Shima

Rina Satou/Wendee Lee as Shura Kirigakure

Tetsuya Kakihara/Darrel Guilbeau as Amaimon

Yuuki Kaji as Konekomaru Miw

“Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Normally, these two dimensions would never intersect, but having possessed all material substances, the demons are now intruding on the material world. But among the human race, there are those who can exorcise such demons.”
– the Exorcists.

During a 3-day drill to prepare Rin and fellow Ex-Wires for actual combat, Amaimon suddenly appears and takes Shiemi as a hostage to lure Rin. Angry, Rin fights Amaimon and he ends up going berserk! He regains control of himself only to be captured by the current Paladin, Angel, and sent to the Vatican for trial. As the hearing drags on, the Order finds itself unable to decide on Rin’s fate, as Mephisto has proclaimed him to be “a weapon for counter-attacking Satan.” Rin is now forced to obey the Vatican’s order or face execution!

It’s the battle that “Blue Exorcist” fans have been waiting for… Rin and Yukio and True Cross Academy vs. their father Satan.  And also the backstory is revealed of Rin and Yuko’s human mother and how she died.

Featuring the final second half (episode 13-25) on three Blu-ray discs plus the original soundtrack, a 36-page illustration book and bonus DVD with interviews with the English dub cast (part two) and more in “Blue Exorcist: Limited Edition Blu-ray Set II”!

So, What is “Blue Exorcist”?

“Ao no Exorcist” (Blue Exorcist) is an anime adaptation of a manga series written and illustrated by Kazue Kato, a mangaka who won a Tenkaichi Manga Award back in 1999 at the age of 19 and won a Tezuka Award in 2000 for his manga “The Witch and the Rabbit”. Kato is also known for his 2006 manga series “Robot Usakichi” (Space Traveler Robo & Usakichi).

“Blue Exorcist” was serialized on Jump Square Magazine by Shueisha since April 2009 and is still an ongoing manga series (as of January 2012, there have been a total of 30 chapters released).

With the popularity of the manga series, an anime adaptation was produced by A-1 Pictures with Hitoshi Okamura as the producer. The series began back in April 2011 and 25-episodes have aired in Japan. And now the second setof “Blue Exorcist” was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

The anime series revolves around a hotheaded teenager named Rin Okumura. Both he and his brother Yukio have been raised by Father Fujimoto at the Cross Academy Town – Southern Cross Boys Monastery. While Yuki shows great intelligence and is attending school at True Cross Academy to become a doctor, Rin is quite the opposite. He tends to get himself in trouble, fights a lot and is continually told by Father Fujimoto to find a job.

Unfortunately for Rin, finding and holding onto a job is difficult. But one day, while working at a supermarket, he sees a monster in a girl’s scarf. He tells Father Fujimoto of what he has seen and Father Fujimoto starts to fear that something is happening. One day, Rin encounters a group of thugs and its leader that he had beaten up earlier and suddenly sees him turn into a demon. The demon tells Rin that satan is waiting for him and immediately, Father Fujimoto is there to save him and exorcise the demon. Fortunately, Father Fujimoto is there to help but it is all revealed to Rin about why he can see monsters.

It’s the fact that he is not truly human. He is the son of a human woman and satan. And the monsters he have seen, it is explained to Rin that in the world, there is Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Both are not supposed to come in contact with each other but they have and as an exorcist, it is his duty to send the demons back to where they belong. And Satan wants to reunite with his son.

To protect Rin, Father Fujimoto gives him the Kamkakushi key, so he can hide anything. And he is also given the Koma Sword, a magic sword passed down from generation to generation and a sword where Rin’s powers have been sealed since birth. Rin’s flame resides inside the sword and is sealed by the scabbard. If he draws it, he will assume his demonic nature and will never be able to live as a human again.

One day, he and Father Fujimoto try to prepare for an imminent attack and tells Rin that he must seek shelter where satan can’t get to him but Rin takes it as his father trying to get rid of him forever. In return, Rin said some hurtful things to Father Fujimoto and the pain that Father Fujimoto felt was enough for Satan, the demon to possess him.

Satan shows up to claim his son and attacks Father Fujimoto. Satan reveals that he created Rin from a human woman in order to create a container that would be powerful enough to hold him.

But it’s something that Father Fujimoto will not let happen to the boy, he looked at as a son. In order to save Rin, Father Fujimoto risks his own life to keep Satan away and is killed in the process.

Now Rin mourns for the one person he knew as his father and when Mephisto Pheles, a friend of Father Fujimoto comes to visit, he tells him that they represent the Knights of the True Cross and they exorcise demons. And Rin has two choices, they will kill him, or he kills the demons. Instead, Rin tells him that he could care less about being human or a demon, he wants to become an exorcist like Father Fujimoto and avenge him and that means defeating his own father.

So, from that point on, Rin must be trained to become an exorcist and will have to follow special rules (which includes not revealing his true nature). But the first thing that he will need to do is enroll at the same school that his brother Yukio attends. When Rin sees his brother, Yukio is in the top of the class and that he is a special leader that people follow at the school and he is no longer the scrawny younger brother he once knew.

As Rin is now a student at the Knights of the True Cross, many of the elders are not too thrilled because Rin is the son of Satan and because Rin tends to be more of a hothead, they are not too sure if he can fit into the Academy. But Rin is determined to make good on his promise to his deceased father and to protect people, but most of all, to kill Satan.

With volume 2 of “Blue Exorcist”, the story continues as Rin continues to study along with his classmates and each are trying to be Esquires, in order to take on various missions. But others at the Academy and the higher ups want to test Rin and find out if he is a person that can be taught and eventually fight with the other exorcists in defeating demons and Satan himself.

While people question a demon being an exorcist, for Rin, he makes a goal that one day, he will become a Paladin (highest level of exorcism) like his adoptive father, Father Shiro and prove that because he is Satan son, that having a caring father like Shiro can make a big change in the life of a person, even if they are a demon.

With the Demon King of Earth, Amaimon making his attack against Rin and friends during training, there is no way Rin can hide his secret. He will need to draw the Kurikara sword and turn into demon form in order to fight and defend his friends. But by using this sword, Rin can lose control in a very bad way!  It was also revealed in volume three that Rin’s twin brother Yukio, who was assumed to not have any of Satan traits, has now developed it.

And now, all is revealed in the latest, final fourth volume of “Blue Exorcist” as Yukio would do anything to protect his twin brother Rin, but not knowing that a conspiracy within True Cross Academy is leading him to not protect his brother, but actually sacrificing him.

Meanwhile, as Yukio is developing Satan traits, satan looks to use Yukio as his vessel.  This leads to Yukio learning the truth about how his mother was killed and more!

Who shall win the final battle between the Okumura brothers who must take on their father, Satan…but will they have enough power to do so!?

 

“Blue Exorcist” features the following characters:

  • Rin Okamura – The main protagonist. The son of Satan but born from a human mother. He and his brother Yukio are twins but he inherited his father’s powers. Rin’s power was sealed inside a sword by Mephisto Pheles, so he can live a human life. Rin was raised by the priest Shiro Fujimoto as normal humans with compassion and love. Despite getting into a lot of trouble and his abilities tend to be more of fighting or cooking, since discovering his power and identity, he vows to use his power to avenge his adoptive father Shiro Fujimoto’s death and defeat Satan. He vows to attend True Cross Academy and do all it takes to become a Paladin and a “Meister” (Knight). Rin also has taken in a dog demon (Cat Sith) which he names Kuro.
  • Yukio Okamura – The son of Satan but born from a human mother. Unlike Rin he did not inherit Satan’s powers. Known as the intellectual person of the family, unbeknown to Rin was that he has been secretly trained to become an exorcist since the age of seven in order to protect his brother. So, now he is an instructor at True Cross Academy and responsible for looking after his brother. But he harbors a secret…dark spots are starting to appear on his body which Yukio has told no one about, despite being tested daily if Satan’s power is in him.
  • Mephisto Pheles – The Chairman of True Cross Academy. He and Shiro Fujimoto worked together in order to seal Rin’s power and make him human. Mephisto is a powerful exorcist but because he is a demon, many do not believe him while others believe he has proven he is on the side to fight against Satan.
  • Ryuji Suguro – Also known as “Bon” to his classmates. He has a high temper and is often fighting and arguing with Rin. But despite his attitude, he is the best student in the class and dedicated to his studies. Part of his drive is because Satan destroyed his family temple.
  • Shiemi Moriyama – The daughter of a woman who runs an exorcist-only shop. She lacks confidence and she is quite sheltered (having lived with her grandmother and her only friends were plants) but when given the chance to meet and make friends at True Cross Academy, being in school gives her a new lease on life. It appears that both Rin and Yukio may have feelings towards her. Shiemi is a tamer and can summon a greenman spirit to produce herbs and barriers.
  • Izumo Kamiki – She always has a cold attitude and known for her eyebrows. The only friend she is close to is her best friend Paku but slowly (very slowly), she is starting to befriend her classmates. She can summon two Baykko (foxes) to fight.
  • Konkomaru Miwa – Very smart but very shy. He is the strategist and is loyal to his best friend Ryuji and Renzo, since they grew up at the same temple that was destroyed. His parents were killed by Satan.
  • Renzo Shima – Carefee, loves to flirt with girls (especially Paku and Izumi) but has a major phobia of insects. He also grew up with Ryuji and Konekomaru. Renzo carries a K’rik staff to fight.
  • Shura Kirigakure – The carefree, hardly wears anything, loves alcohol, upper first class exorcist who was asked by priest Shiro Fujimoto to train Rin and help him become a “Meister”. She can draw a demon sword from her chest and stomach and is an excellent fighter.
  • Shiro Fujimoto – The priest of Southern Cross Monastery who raised both Yukio and Rin as a loving father. He is a Paladin in the True Cross Order and was the strongest exorcist. Was thought to be the only man who could not be possessed by Satan but after an argument with Rin (and Rin saying some hurtful things) which shocked Shiro, it was enough time for Satan to possess Shiro. In order to protect himself from hurting Rin and Yukio, Shiro sacrificed himself.

“Blue Exorcist: Limited Edition Blu-ray Set II″ features episodes 13-25 on three Blu-ray discs. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

  • EPISODE 13 – Proof – Rin encounters Shura Kiragakure, a high level exorcist and former apprentice of Father Shiro.
  • EPISODE 14 – A Fun Camping Trip – The Esquires are taken to the forest where they are to undergo through training by Yukio and Shura.
  • EPISODE 15 – Act of Kindness – The students are attacked by Amaimon.  In order to protect the other students, Shura gives Rin the sword which transforms him into a demon to fight Amaimon.
  • EPISODE 16 – The Wager – Rin is captured by Arthur Auguste Angel, a Paladin who wants Rin dead and Mephisto to be charged for keeping this secret from the Academy of Rin and Yukio’s true identity.  The Academy must decide whether to have Rin executed or to be used as a weapon to fight Satan.
  • EPISODE 17 – Temptation – While the True Cross Academy is making their decision, Amaimon enters the True Cross Order HQ to continue his fight.  Meanwhile, Mephisto wants to show that Rin will fight for the True Cross.
  • EPISODE 18 – Gufu – With Konekomaru shocked about Rin’s identity and that Rin’s father Satan was responsible for his parent’s death, he doesn’t know if he could be friends with him.  Meanwhile, a bird demon is trying to enter the school.  Meanwhile, Rin must go through special training to become an exorcist immediately.
  • EPISODE 19 – An Ordinary Day – Shiemi and friends decide to have a surprise birthday party for Izumo.  Meanwhile, Izumo becomes suspicious of her classmates.
  • EPISODE 20 – Mask – Someone with a mask has attacked the monastery.  Who is the masked individual?
  • EPISODE 21 – The Secret Garden – Yukio is involved in a secret meeting with Ernst Frederik Egin, a man who claims to be his grandfather and shows him top secret plans to fight against satan.
  • EPISODE 22 – Demon Hunting – Ernst Frederik Egin becomes the new leader of True Cross Academy and Yukio is promoted as Paladin.  But Ernst shows his true intentions of why he needed Yukio.
  • EPISODE 23 – Truth – Satan reveals the truth to Yukio of how his mother was killed and who was responsible.
  • EPISODE 24 – Satan’s Spawn – Rin and friends vs. Satan.
  • EPISODE 25 – Stop, Time – Rin and Yukio take on their father, satan.

VIDEO:

“Blue Exorcist” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9 Widescreen). The anime production is well-done. The surrounding environments are well-detailed, painted nicely, while the character designs are vibrant, clear and just gorgeous on Blu-ray!

If anything, character designer Keigo Sasaki (“Night Raid 1931″, “Sengoku Basara”) does a great job of bringing the characters from Kazue Kato’s manga series to life, while art director Masatoshi Kai (“Akira”, “Dead Girls”, “Earthian”, “Red Garden”) did a wonderful job in bringing the series to life with the scenery and painted backgrounds.

I’m pretty impressed of how this anime looks visually, especially when comparing to the previous DVD release, the Blu-ray release is much more colorful, sharper and gorgeous in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Blue Exorcist” is presented in English Linear PCM Stereo and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo with English subtitles.  Audio is clear coming from the front channels.   Japanese voice acting for the series is excellent!  I personally had my receiver set to stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack. But dialogue is understandable and English subtitles are easy to read.

As for the English dub track, the overall acting is good but it’s once again an action series with Johnny Yong Bosch as the lead character.  For the most part, the voice acting by the English dub staff is very good.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blue Exorcist: Limited Edition Blu-ray Set II” comes with the following special features:

  • URA-EKU (Bonus Short Movies) – Featuring three short omake anime stories (about 1:20 per omake) that are shown after an episode is completed.
  • Preview Web Version – Featuring the “next episode” previews voiced by various demon characters (about 17 seconds each).
  • Textless OP and ED – Blue Exorcist opening and ending theme without text.
  • Blue Exorcist English Cast Interview Part 2: Exorcist & Demons – (42:49)  Interviews with the English voice cast part two!  Featuring Sam Regal, Darrel Guilbeau, Wendee Lee, Kirk Thornton, Patrick Seitz, David Vincent and Stephanie Sheh.  This is featured on the bonus DVD included with this limited edition.

EXTRAS:

“Blue Exorcist: Limited Edition Blu-ray Set II” comes with the following extras:

  • Original Soundtrack CD 2 (青の祓魔師 オリジナル・サウンドトラック II)

(Duration: 1 hr., 10 minutes)

Track Listing:

1.  BGM的-suite 1st-Mov.:E戦場-Aria    2:58
2.  BGM的-suite 2nd-Mov.:Technology ORCH.    3:09
3.  BGM的-suite 3rd-Mov.:Hyou×(依+変)    4:40
4.  BGM的-suite 4th-Mov.:BOBOBOぼ~ん    3:40
5.  IiMuRoYa-$.feat 1st-Mov.:M    6:02    澤野弘之
6.  IiMuRoYa-$.feat 2nd-Mov.:CHaos+CHorus    5:41
7.  IiMuRoYa-$.feat 3rd-Mov.:HEiW@→KiZUN@    4:13
8.  IiMuRoYa-$.feat 4th-Mov.:N-tone    3:22
9.  日常用 de SUIT 1st-Mov.:銃剣兄弟GEKIBANger    4:17
10. 日常用 de SUIT 2nd-Mov.:剣兄弟GEKIBANger-Returns    3:09
11. 日常用 de SUIT 3rd-Mov.:銃剣兄弟GEKIBANger-Forever    5:24
12. 日常用 de SUIT 4th-Mov.:銃剣兄弟GEKIBANger-The Final    6:40
13. 交響$weet 1st-Mov.:st-RING    4:23
14. 交響$weet 2nd-Mov.:STN-blood    4:36
15. 交響$weet 3rd-Mov.:call ME    3:20
16. 交響$weet 4th-Mov.:f    3:35

  • 36-Page Illustration Booklet
  • Rigid Box Illustrated by Kazue Kato (manga author)
  • Clear cases with reversible wraps of original Japanese cover design.

As I finished watching the final episode of the “Blue Exorcist” anime series, I have to say that the “Blue Exorcist” storyline was delightful, action-packed and captivating.

And with several volumes of the manga series having been completed, hopefully with Kazue Kato continues the series, fans will be given a new season of “Blue Exorcist”!

The series has  developed quite well in terms of storyline pacing, animation, voice acting and just overall enjoyment.  The third volume was exciting because we got to see more of Rin’s friends involved in the fight against the demons but most importantly, seeing that the straight-laced Yukio has been hiding a major secret, that his demon powers were awakening.

While there was an emphasis on showcasing Rin and friends in previous episodes, the storyline comes full circle in the fact that it comes back to the main two characters, Rin and his younger twin brother Yukio and the fact that they will be going up against their father, Satan.

But as one would expect a banal storyline of Satan being the ultimate evil, once we get to know more about Rin and Yukio’s human mother, we realize that Satan and the woman were indeed in love and also one of the main reasons why satan is trying to attempt in gaining a vessel.  Also, how Shiro was given the duty of raising both Rin and Yukio.  This was an intriguing backstory and you feel for the Rin and Yukio’s mother because she was a compassionate woman, trying to understand how one side could hate something.  Wondering if they even gave the demon a chance?  In her mind, perhaps humans and demons can co-exist, because she was able to see a good side of things.

But as she sided with Satan, she also saw the ugly side of humanity, which even fed the rage to satan and its understandable as religions have shown the fight against evil and to do all that is possible to stop it.  And in this case, despite Rin and Yuki being raised with love and dedicate their lives to fight demons, there are those who believed that no matter how different the twins were raised, as long as they are the children of Satan, they are evil.

So, the final half of the series and the final few episodes was exciting and action-packed.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if you craved for more episodes.

As for the overall series, the character designs are actually pretty cool, especially the costume designs for the characters. Also, the art backgrounds for this series is nicely detailed and range from pastels to really vibrant colors. Something you typically don’t see in a TV Series.

“Blue Exorcist” has a good balance of humor, action and an interesting concept in balance with awesome animation and beautiful art backgrounds. While the action may be it a bit too visual for younger anime viewers (as this is suggested for 13 and up), for fans of action-based anime or manga series such as “Naruto” and “Bleach” will find “Blue Exorcist” to their liking.

And once again, with the release of “Blue Exorcist: Limited Edition Blu-ray Set II”, Aniplex of America continues to deliver in terms of swag with bonus interviews on DVD, the original soundtrack #2, illustration booklet and more!

Overall, “Blue Exorcist” turned out to be an exciting, action-packed series that I highly recommend!  And for fans, “Blue Exorcist: Limited Edition Blu-ray Set II” is definitely worth owning!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Blue Exorcist: Complete 1st Season (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

July 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

blueexorcist-complete

An interesting take on exorcist-based storyline, “Blue Exorcist” has a good balance of humor, action, cool characters with an interesting concept plus awesome animation and beautiful art backgrounds. Featuring all 12 episodes for season 1 and the addition of an English dub, “Blue Exorcist: Complete 1st Season” is  definitely recommended!

PLEASE PURCHASE THIS ANIME SERIES FROM RIGHTSTUF or BANDAI ENT. ONLINE STORE

Image courtesy of © 2009 by Kazue Kato/SHUEISHA, Blue Exorcist Committee, MBS. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Blue Exorcist: Complete 1st Season

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (325 minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, 16:9 LB, Dolby Digital

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

RELEASE DATE: July 9, 2013

Based on the manga by Kazue Kato

Directed by Tensai Okamura

Series Composition by Ryota Yamaguchi

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Masatoshi Kai

Chief Animation Director: Keigo Sasaki

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Yukio Okumura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Shiemi Moriyama

Kazuya Nakai/Kyle Hebert as Ryūji Suguro

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Bryce Paperbrook as Rin Okumura

Ayahi Takagaki/Stephanie Sheh as Kuro

Eri Kitamura/Kira Buckland as Izumo Kamiki

Hiroshi Kamiya/Sam Regal as Mephisto Pheles

Keiji Fujiwara/Kirk Thornton as Shirō Fujimoto

Koji Yusa/Brian Beacock as Renzō Shima

Rina Satou/Wendee Lee as Shura Kirigakure

Tetsuya Kakihara/Darrel Guilbeau as Amaimon

Yuuki Kaji/Mona Marshall as Konekomaru Miwa

“Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Normally, these two dimensions would never intersect, but having possessed all material substances, the demons are now intruding on the material world. But among the human race, there are those who can exorcise such demons.”
– the Exorcists.

Rin Okumura and his twin brother Yukio have been raised by Shiro Fujimoto, an eminent priest, so it comes as a shock when Rin discovers their biological father is actually Satan! As the border between “Assiah” (the human world) and “Gehenna” (the demon world) is crossed by evil, Rin vows to become the ultimate exorcist and defeat his own father. To hone his raw skills, Rin enters True Cross Academy to train with other exorcist candidates.

“Blue Exorcist” returns to the U.S. courtesy of Aniplex Inc. with a brand new English dub and all 12 episodes in a DVD and Blu-ray release!

What is “Blue Exorcist” about?

“Ao no Exorcist” (Blue Exorcist) is an anime adaptation of a manga series written and illustrated by Kazue Kato, a mangaka who won a Tenkaichi Manga Award back in 1999 at the age of 19 and won a Tezuka Award in 2000 for his manga “The Witch and the Rabbit”.  Kato is also known for his 2006 manga series “Robot Usakichi” (Space Traveler Robo & Usakichi).

“Blue Exorcist” was serialized on Jump Square Magazine by Shueisha since April 2009 and is still an ongoing manga series.

With the popularity of the manga series, an anime adaptation was produced by A-1 Pictures with Hitoshi Okamura as the producer.  The series began back in April 2011 and 25-episodes have aired in Japan.  And now the second volume of “Blue Exorcist” will be released on DVD courtesy of Aniplex.

The anime series revolves around a hotheaded teenager named Rin Okumura. Both he and his brother Yukio have been raised by Father Fujimoto at the Cross Academy Town – Southern Cross Boys Monastery. While Yuki shows great intelligence and is attending school at True Cross Academy to become a doctor, Rin is quite the opposite. He tends to get himself in trouble, fights a lot and is continually told by Father Fujimoto to find a job.

Unfortunately for Rin, finding and holding onto a job is difficult. But one day, while working at a supermarket, he sees a monster in a girl’s scarf. He tells Father Fujimoto of what he has seen and Father Fujimoto starts to fear that something is happening. One day, Rin encounters a group of thugs and its leader that he had beaten up earlier and suddenly sees him turn into a demon. The demon tells Rin that satan is waiting for him and immediately, Father Fujimoto is there to save him and exorcise the demon. Fortunately, Father Fujimoto is there to help but it is all revealed to Rin about why he can see monsters.

It’s the fact that he is not truly human. He is the son of a human woman and satan. And the monsters he have seen, it is explained to Rin that in the world, there is Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Both are not supposed to come in contact with each other but they have and as an exorcist, it is his duty to send the demons back to where they belong. And satan wants to reunite with his son.

To protect Rin, Father Fujimoto gives him the Kamkakushi key, so he can hide anything. And he is also given the Koma Sword, a magic sword passed down from generation to generation and a sword where Rin’s powers have been sealed since birth. Rin’s flame resides inside the sword and is sealed by the scabbard. If he draws it, he will assume his demonic nature and will never be able to live as a human again.

One day, he and Father Fujimoto try to prepare for an imminent attack and tells Rin that he must seek shelter where satan can’t get to him but Rin takes it as his father trying to get rid of him forever. In return, Rin said some hurtful things to Father Fujimoto and the pain that Father Fujimoto felt was enough for satan, the demon to possess him.

Satan shows up to claim his son and attacks Father Fujimoto. Satan reveals that he created Rin from a human woman in order to create a container that would be powerful enough to hold him.

But it’s something that Father Fujimoto will not let happen to the boy, he looked at as a son. In order to save Rin, Father Fujimoto risks his own life to keep satan away and is killed in the process.

Now Rin mourns for the one person he knew as his father and when Mephisto Pheles, a friend of Father Fujimoto comes to visit, he tells him that they represent the Knights of the True Cross and they exorcise demons. And Rin has two choices, they will kill him, or he kills the demons. Instead, Rin tells him that he could care less about being human or a demon, he wants to become an exorcist like Father Fujimoto and avenge him and that means defeating his own father.

So, from that point on, Rin must be trained to become an exorcist and will have to follow special rules (which includes not revealing his true nature). But the first thing that he will need to do is enroll at the same school that his brother Yukio attends. When Rin sees his brother, Yukio is in the top of the class and that he is a special leader that people follow at the school and he is no longer the scrawny younger brother he once knew.

As Rin is now a student at the Knights of the True Cross, many of the elders are not too thrilled because Rin is the son of Satan and because Rin tends to be more of a hothead, they are not too sure if he can fit into the Academy.  But Rin is determined to make good on his promise to his deceased father and to protect people, but most of all, to kill satan.

The story continues as Rin continues to study along with his classmates and each are trying to be Esquires, in order to take on various missions.  But others at the Academy and the higher ups want to test Rin and find out if he is a person that can be taught and eventually fight with the other exorcists in defeating demons and satan himself.

While people question a demon being an exorcist, for Rin, he makes a goal that one day, he will become a Paladin (highest level of exorcism) like his adoptive father, Father Shiro and prove that because he is satan’s son, that having a caring father like Shiro can make a big change in the life of a person, even if they are a demon.

“Blue Exorcist: Complete 1st Season” features episodes 1-12 on three DVD’s. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

  • EPISODE 1 – The Devil Resides in Human Souls – An introduction to Rin, Yukio and Father Fujimoto. Also, Rin finding out about his true nature.
  • EPISODE 2Gehenna Gate – Father Fujimoto and his companions try to protect Rin from the demons especially from satan.
  • EPISODE 3 – Brothers – Rin is enrolled at True Cross Academy and Rin confronts his brother in regards to his true nature.
  • EPISODE 4 – The Garden of Amahara – Yuko and Rin go to visit the owner of an exorcist-only shop, but the owner’s daughter Shiemi Moriyama has a demon within her.
  • EPISODE 5 – A Boy from the Cursed Temple – As Rin is a flake when it comes to school, it angers his classmate Bon, who has a lot in common with Rin.
  • EPISODE 6 – The Phantom Chef – Rin and Yuko find out who is really cooking the food at the academy.
  • EPISODE 7 – A Flock of Plovers – Shiemi tries to make new friends at school and befriends Izumo Kamiko, a girl who may be using her instead.
  • EPISODE 8 – Now a Certain Man Was Sick – When the class is punished because of Kamiki and Bon’s argument, the students are attacked by a ghoul.
  • EPISODE 9 – Memories – The students learn that the ghoul attack was part of their Esquire exam.  Meanwhile, Neuhaus is planning to test Rin.
  • EPISODE 10 – Black Cat – Father Shiro’s familiar, a demon cat named Kuro has gone crazy when he finds out that Shiro has died.  Not believing any of it, the Academy considers killing it.  But Rin can read the cat’s true feelings.
  • EPISODE 11 – Demon of the Deep Seas  – Rin, Izumo and Shima are sent on their first mission as Esquires to find out about attacks made by the Kraken.  The three meet a boy who awaits his father who went to face the Kraken six months earlier.
  • EPISODE 12 – A Game of Tag – The Esquires must look for the ghost of a child haunting Mephisto Pheles’ amusement park.  But Rin is attacked by the higher demon named Amaimon.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Blue Exorcist” is presented in 16:9 lb and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 with English subtitles. The anime production is well-done. The surrounding environments are well-detailed, painted nicely, while the character designs are vibrant, clear and I wouldn’t be surprised if this series is given the Blu-ray treatment in the near future because it looks very good on DVD.

If anything, character designer Keigo Sasaki (“Night Raid 1931″, “Sengoku Basara”) does a great job of bringing the characters from Kazue Kato’s manga series to life, while art director Masatoshi Kai (“Akira”, “Dead Girls”, “Earthian”, “Red Garden”) did a wonderful job in bringing the series to life with the scenery and painted backgrounds.

I’m pretty impressed of how this anime looks visually.

As for audio, audio is clear coming from the front channels. I personally had my receiver set to stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack. With “Blue Exorcist: Complete 1st Season”, the biggest addition to this DVD release compared to the previous Aniplex DVD release of “Blue Exorcist” is the addition of an English dub soundtrack.  With this release, Bryce Papenbrook, Christine Marie Cabanos, Johnny Yong Bosch and Kyle Hebert do a wonderful job. dialogue is understandable and English subtitles are easy to read.

With that being said, for those who want to watch “Blue Exorcist” in 1080p High Definition and a lossless soundtrack may want to opt for Blu-ray set which comes with better picture quality and audio plus more extra content than the DVD release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blue Exorcist: Complete 1st Season” features the following special features:

  • Unaired Special Episode – Kuro Runs Away From Home – Kuro is upset that Rin teases him about food and Yukio tries to discipline him about his cat poop.  So, Kuro decides to runaway from home and realizes that perhaps living with Rin and Yukio is better than living without them.
  • URA-EX (Bonus Short Movies) – Featuring six short omake anime stories (about 1:20 per omake) that are shown after an episode is completed.
  • Web Previews – Featuring the “next episode” previews voiced by various demon characters (about 17 seconds each).
  • Textless OP – Blue Exorcist opening theme without text.
  • Textless ED – Blue Exorcist ending theme without text.
  • Credits – Text based credits
  • Aniplex Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Blue Exorcist: Complete 1st Season” comes with a slipcover.

Highly entertaining, enjoyable and action-packed, “Blue Exorcist” has proved itself to be an exciting series, but the episodes featured in the second volume is much better in storyline compared to the first seven episodes.  I love where this series is headed and the additional characters featured, really make “Blue Exorcist” an anime series worth watching.

So far, “Blue Exorcist” has turned out to be an enjoyable anime series thus far.  If anything, this first volume is more to establish how Rin became an exorcist but also to show his relationship with Father Fujimoto and his brother Yukio.  If anything, the series does have a little in common with “Naruto”, in the fact that Naruto has the 9-tailed fox sealed inside him and the character is not exactly the smartest, the same can be said with Rin, as he is a character that is a demon but tries to do all he can to use his powers for good.

While one can make a few comparisons to the series “Naruto” as he was the person no one wanted to be around, mainly because he had a demon inside him but yet, he vowed to fight for those he cares about and one day to become the village leader.  For “Blue Exorcist”, Rin is similar in the fact that he is misunderstood, is a demon, but he wants to fight for those he cares about and to become a Paladin like the man who raised him.

And both share the similarity in that village leaders are concerned with Naruto (having the demon inside him) and for Rin of “Blue Exorcist”, you have exorcists who were wiped out by satan, also concerned that what if Rin turns out to be evil and is uncontrollable.

But despite the similarities and the fact that these students must work together on missions, there are some twists as people responsible for watching over Rin, may have their own personal agenda.  Also, unlike “Naruto” which was geared towards children, there is a lot of violence in this series, to the point where Rin is often stabbed by a sword.  Granted, he is healed but there is a bit of blood and violence at times.

As for the overall series, the character designs are actually pretty cool, especially the costume designs for the characters. Also, the art backgrounds for this series is nicely detailed and range from pastels to really vibrant colors.  Something you typically don’t see in a TV Series.

Having reviewed the original DVD release from Aniplex, the primary difference is the fact that you get all 12 episodes for the first season and most importantly, you get an English dub.  Picture quality is very good on DVD as the colors are vibrant and animation is well-done.  And as for special features, the fact that this  DVD includes the OVA of “Kuro Runs Away From Home”, is actually a wonderful treat for fans who don’t have to wait until the final volume to watch this OVA.

But for those wonder if the DVD release has the usual Aniplex swag, the answer is that if you want the best version of “Blue Exorcist” and the swag, you will want to purchase the Blu-ray release.  While the price of the Blu-ray release is around $139.98 and the DVD version is $69.98 on RightStuf!, the biggest difference between the DVD and Blu-ray release is that the Blu-ray release comes with an original soundtrack, bonus DVD with English cast interviews and a 36-page deluxe illustration booklet and a slipcase.  So, if you want the swag, you’re going to want to purchase the Blu-ray release of “Blue Exorcist”.

Overall, “Blue Exorcist” has a good balance of humor, action and an interesting concept in balance with awesome animation and beautiful art backgrounds.  While the action may be it a bit too visual for younger anime viewers (as this is suggested for 13 and up) and while the first few episodes being more introductory, but as the series progresses, the storyline gets better and better as we get to see Rin and his classmates start to work as a team and also see Rin mature and try to keep his powers in check but also adding a few plot twists along the way.

If you are looking for an action-drive anime series with a cool storyline and exciting characters, “Blue Exorcist” is definitely recommended!

PLEASE PURCHASE THIS ANIME SERIES FROM RIGHTSTUF or BANDAI ENT. ONLINE STORE

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