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

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 12 Episodes (335 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Ao Jumonji

Directed by Ryosuke Nakamura

Script by Ryosuke Nakamura

Music by R.O.N.

Original Character Design by Eiri Shirai

Character Design by Mieko Hosoi

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko

Chief Animation Director: Mieko Hosoi

Animation Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ricco Fajardo as Haruhiro

Chika Anzai/Jad Saxton as Mary

Daisuke Namikawa/Todd Haberkorn as Kikkawa

Fukushi Ochiai/Jarrod Greene as Moguzo

Haruka Terui/Sarah Wiedenheft as Shihoru

Hiroki Yasumoto/Mike McFarland as Brittany

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Orion Pitts as Ranta

Mamiko Noto/Jamie Marchi as Barbara

Mikako Komatsu/Jeannie Tirado as Yume

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Justin Briner as Manato

Tomokazu Seki/Jason Liebrecht as Renji



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended!

My Hero Academia: Season One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“My Hero Academia” is fast-paced and enjoyable! The characters and their powers can be a bit way over-the-top but its unpredictability and enjoyable storyline, makes “My Hero Academia”, an anime series on Blu-ray worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © 2014 by Kohei Horikoshi. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: My Hero Academia: Season One

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, DTS-HD Master Audio: English and Japanese 5.1, 2.0 Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 18, 2017


Originally Created by Kohei Horikoshi

Director: Kenji Nagakasaki

Series Composition: Yousuke Kuroda

Character Design by Yoshihiko Umakoshi

Music by Yuuki Hayashi

Art Director: Shigemi Ikeda, Yukiko Maruyama

Anime Production: BONES


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Luci Christian as Ochaco Uraraka

Daiki Yamashita/Justin Briner as Izuku Midoriya

Kaito Ishikawa/J. Michael Tatum as Tenya Iida

Kenta Miyake/Christopher R. Sabat as All Might

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Clifford Chapin as Katsuki Bakugō

Yuuki Kaji/David Matranga as Shōto Todoroki

Aoi Yūki/Monica Rial as Tsuyu Asui

Eri Kitamura/Caitlin Glass as Mina Ashido

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Sonny Strait as Present Mic

Inuko Inuyama/Morgan Berry as Thirteen

Junichi Suwabe/Alex Organ as Shota Aizawa

Kaori Nazuka/Felecia Angelle as Tooru Hagakure

Kei Shindou/Trina Nishimura as Kyōka Jirō

Kiyotaka Furushima/Christopher Bevins as Hanta Sero

Kōsuke Kuwano/Joel McDonald as Yūga Aoyama

Kosuke Miyoshi/MikeMcFarland as Mashirao Ojiro

Kouki Uchiyama/Eric Vale as Tomura Shigaraki

Marina Inoue/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Momo Yaoyorozu

Masakazu Nishida as Mezō Shōji

Ryou Hirohashi/Brina Palencia as Minoru Mineta

Takahiro Fujiwara/Chuck Huber as Kurogiri

Tasuku Hatanaka/Kyle Phillips as Denki Kaminari

Tooru Nara/Cris George as Rikidō Satō

Toshiki Masuda/Justin Cook as Eijirō Kirishima

Tsuguo Mogami as Noumu

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Joshua Grelle as Fumikage Tokoyami


It’s an exciting age of heroes, where most people develop supernatural abilities known as Quirks. Bright-eyed kids like Izuku Midoriya—Deku for short—dream of the day they become champions of the people. There’s just one little problem standing in Deku’s way. In a world full of heroes, he’s Quirkless. Crushed, but not down for the count, this superhero-fanboy dedicates his time to studying the pros in hopes that he, too, can join a prestigious high school for heroes. In the face of despair, Deku’s courage catches the eye of his ultimate idol, the symbol of justice known as All Might! With special training from the big guy himself, Deku and the talented first-years of the academy may finally have a shot at achieving their dreams. But these amateurs are put to the test of a lifetime when routine training becomes a battle against real villains!


From Kohei Horikoshi, the creator of “Omagadoki Dobutsuen” and “Barrage”, came his manga series “My Hero Academia” (Boku no Hero Academia).

Serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2014, an anime adaptation began in April 2016 through June 2016 (for the first season) and a second season begain in April 2017.

The anime series is produced by BONES and is directed by Kenji Nagasaki (“Classroom Crisis”, “Gundum Build Fighters”, “No. 6”), series composition by Yousuke Kuroda (“Battle Girl High School”, “Fire Emblem”, “Gundam Build Fighters”), music was composed by Yuuki Hayashi (“Death Parade”, “Haikyu!!”, “Robotics;Notes”), character designs are by Yoshihiko Umakoshi (“Air master”, “Boys Over Flowers”, “Heartcatch Precure!”) and art direction by Shigemi Ikeda (“Battle Athletes Victory”, “Afro Samurai”, “Bastard!!”) and Yukiko Maruyama (“El-Hazard: The Wanderers”, “Macross Delta”, “Active Raid”).

And now the first season (featuring the first 13 episodes) is available on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

“My Hero Academia” is a story that revolves around Quirks (people who begin to manifest special abilities) and all of a sudden people in the world began to have many people who became superpowered individuals.  Some who use their powers for good, some who use their powers for evil intentions.

Because the government is not equipped to deal with these superpowered thugs, a special group of heroic superpowered individuals came together to protect the people and keep the peace.

The series revolves around a boy named Izuku Midoriya, a boy born Quirkless and looked up to the world’s top hero, All Might.  And hoped that one day he could be a hero, despite not having a quirk.

One day, All Might received a near-fatal wound and now, he is losing his powers.  When Izuku proves his bravery, All Might decides to transfer some of his power on to Izuku and now, Izuku must train to learn how to use All Might’s quirk and must prove that he has the skills to attend the prestigious U.A. High School.

“My Hero Academia” focuses on the following characters:

  • Izuku Midoriya – A shy and timid boy who dreamed of becoming a superhero like All Might.  Often studying superheroes, when he steps up to save his childhood bully/acquaintance Katsuki from a villain, All Might chooses to transfer some of his quirk to Izuku.  And now Izuku has the opportunity to attend the prestigious U.A. High School.  He has a crush on Ochako.
  • Katsuki Bakugo – Izuku’s classmate and bully.  He possesses the Quirk Explosion which allows his palm to sweat to become nytrolglycerin and explode.  He is egotistical to people he deems are lower than him.
  • Ochako Uraraka – A girl who has the Quirk Zero Gravity, which makes any object she touches float.
  • Tenya Iida – The president of class 1-A who has the Quirk Engine, which gives him super-speed via jet engines in his legs.  Often seen as serious and scary.
  • Shoto Todoroki – A student in class 1-A and has the Quirk Fire and ice, which allows his left side to control fire and his right side to control ice.  He is the youngest child of Endeavor, the second top hero after All Might.
  • Toshinori Yagi/All Might – The top superhero in the world.  But only Itsuku knows his secrt that five years ago, he was severely injured in battle and now he is losing his power and can use it only for three hour a day.  He is a teacher at U.A. High School and his Quirk One For all allows him to transfer his power on to another.

VIDEO:

“My Hero Academia: Season One” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the anime series is respectful to the original character designs by Kohei Horikoshi.  Animation is vibrant and characters are well-drawn and shaded, art backgrounds are also well-done.

As most TV series has a bit of softness, “My Hero Academia” looks fantastic on Blu-ray.  I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“My Hero Academia: Season One” is presented in Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Both soundtracks are fantastic and are well-acted. dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the center, front and surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“My Hero Academia: Season One” comes with the following special features:

  • Anime Expo 2016 Interview with Kenji Nagasaki and Wakana Okamura – (12:46) Featuring director Kenji Nagasaki and producer Wakana Okamura at AX 2016 and with the duo being interviewed and having fun at AX.
  • My Hero Academia: Meet the Characters – (6:24) An English introduction to the characters of “My Hero Academia” (Funimation promos).
  • AnimeFest 2016 Interview with Ayana Nishino – (8:42) Featuring an interview with animation director Ayana Nishino.
  • AnimeFest 2016: Artist Sketches – (6:29) Featuring a sped up art feature of the artists of “My Hero Academia” drawing a sketch of various characters.
  • Anime Expo 2016: My Hero Academia Panel – (36:34) Masahiko Minami of BONES, producer Wakana Okamura, director Kenji Nagasaki and English dub actors Clifford Chapin, Justin Briner, Christopher R. Sabat.
  • Anime Expo 2016 Interview with Christopher R. Sabat & Justin Briner – (19:16) FUNimation interviews Christopher R. Sabat and Justin Briner.
  • Anime Expo 2016: Interview with Masahiko Minami – (8:08) FUNimation interviews BONES Masahiko Minami.
  • Inside the Episodes – Short Omake sketches that were featured at the end of each episode
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • Trailer – Funimation trailers.

EXTRAS:

Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the “My Hero Academia: Season One” are included on this Blu-ray release.


At first, I was wondering if “My Hero Academy” will be like another “X-Men” style storyline of humans vs. mutants and the world fearing mutantkind.  In this case, humankind fearing Quirks.

What I enjoy about this series is the fact that our heroes are not exactly what you expect in terms of heroic characters.  Whereas superpowered individuals in American comic books often showcase a character that is ripped, muscular, charismatic or gorgeous, “My Hero Academia” features regular characters and its main protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, is wide-eyed and looks far too innocent and unlikely to be a hero.

It’s heroes vs. heroes as the focused on a yearly sports festival in which the heroes must succeed and move up in the ranks and prepare themselves for whichever challenge comes their way. We also get to see a second competition featuring one-on-one battles as Izuku Midoriya of the Hero Course takes on Hitoshi Shinso from General Studies.  And also, Hanta Sero of the Hero Course vs. Shoto Todoroki of the Hero Course.

Also, Midoriya and friends in one of the most challenging battles they have ever faced as they must take on the League of Villains Hero Killer Stain.

Meanwhile, the Academy is having its Practical Exam and must be paired to take on a Hero, but with Midoriya and Bakugo, they find out they must take on All Might.

And all this and more in the first season of “My Hero Academia”.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and BONES did a wonderful job with this TV series as not only did the animation compliment the manga series in terms of overall design but the series looked great on Blu-ray and softness was not overly evident.  The English soundtrack gets the better lossless 5.1 soundtrack and subtitles are in English.

I also have to add that this is probably one of the better FUNimation special features included with actual full panels and interviews included with both Japanese crew and English dub talent from Anime Expo 2016 and AnimeFest 2016.  I was pleasantly surprised to see FUNimation putting much effort to have these special features and definitely adds to the enjoyability of this Blu-ray release.

Overall, “My Hero Academia” is fast-paced and enjoyable! The characters and their powers can be a bit way over-the-top but its unpredictability and enjoyable storyline, makes “My Hero Academia”, an anime series on Blu-ray worth checking out!

Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace: The Complete Series” is for the anime fan who loves mystery anime series.  And it’s also easier to follow since it’s only eleven episodes long.  “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” is an anime series worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace: The Complete SeriesThe Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-11) 275 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: December 13, 2016


Originally Concept by Rampo Edogawa

Directed by Seiji Kishi

Series Composition by Makoto Uezu

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Kazuaki Morita

Art Director: Ayumi Miyakoshi

Chief Animation Director: Kouji Yamagata, Yusuke Kamata

Anime Production: Lerche


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daiki Yamashita/Justin Briner as Hashiba

Rie Takahashi/Jill Harris as Kobayashi

Takahiro Sakurai/Eric Vale as Akechi

Cho/Mark Stoddard as Nakamura

Jun Fukuyama/Todd Haberkorn as Namikoshi

Kappei Yamaguchi/Jerry Jewell as Shitai-kun (Corpsey)

Katsuyuki Konishi/J. Michael Tatum as Kagami

Saki Fujita/Jad Saxton as Minami

Takehito Koyasu/Sonny Strait as Kage-Otoko (Shadow-Man)

Yōko Hikasa/Mallorie Rodak as Kuro Tokage (Black Lizard)


Inspired by the works of Edogawa Rampo, Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace tells a macabre detective story rife with symbolism and visual tricks that exist somewhere in the delicate balance between gruesome and gorgeous.

Middle school life was dull for the intelligent and charismatic Kobayashi, until the day he was framed for his homeroom teacher’s murder. After the event drew the media’s attention, an infamous high school detective inserted himself into the investigation. Brooding and brilliant, Akechi quickly cleared Kobayashi’s name and took the inquisitive young student on as his assistant. But for every case they closed, two more seemed to open in its place.

The streets were alive with whispers of one deadly name, Twenty Faces–a legendary murderer who killed criminals in the name of justice. With cryptic clues leading the way, Kobayashi and Akechi began following the trail of bodies left by the prolific killer. But will they be able to stop him before countless innocent people, inspired by his deranged cause, start following his lead?


In Japan, one of the most well-respected authors of mystery fiction novels was Edogawa Ranpo (Taro Hirai).  A pseudonym used by Taro is a rendering of one of his favorite writers, Edgar Allan Poe.

In 2015, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Edogawa Ranpo, a series titled “Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace” was produced by Lerche and directed by Seiji Kishi (“Kamisama Dolls”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Fate/Prototype”) and a screenplay by Makoto Uezu (“Akame ga KILL!”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Danganronpa the Animation”).

The anime series is set at a middle school where several murders have taken place.  A 17-year-old middle school boy, who is mistaken for a girl named Kobayashi is blamed for dismembering his homeroom teacher.

A person who loves solving mysteries, Kobayashi and her good friend Hashiba (a popular guy who wants to protect Kobayashi at all costs) want to team up with Kogoro Akechi, a 17-year-old genius detective who solves abnormal crimes.

Kogoro offers Kobayashi to become his assistant only if he can find the killer responsible for dismembering his teacher.

As Kobayashi is successful in helping Kogoro, the trio then work on various cases such as trying to find the Shadow-Man, a thief accused of kidnapping several girls.  But also trying to find a vigilante known as Twenty Faces, who kills murderers who have not been brought to justice and killing them the way the murderers had killed their victims.

But as the trio investigates, Kogoro realizes that Twenty Faces may be tied to a person from his past.


VIDEO:

“Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant. There is slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, animation is solid throughout.  I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD Stereo 2.0. Both soundtracks are well-acted and are crystal clear through the front channels but with the 5.1 soundtrack, the English dub has an edge due to the use of the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” features the following special features:

  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Eric Vale, Justin Briner, Jill Harris and Sonny Strait.
  • Promotional Videos
  • Commercials – Japanese commercials
  • Textless Opening and Ending Song

EXTRAS:

“Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” comes with a slipcover and also both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the anime series.


In Japan, mystery manga and anime series are quite popular.  In fact, one of the longest running anime series still on television is “Meitantei Conan” (Case Closed) which has been airing since 1996 (and the manga series since 1994).

But part of the excitement surrounding the anime series “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” is that it commemorates the 50th anniversary of the death of Rampo Edogawa.  An author known for creating mystery fiction novels and many works that were inspired by his original oeuvre.

Set for a modern age, “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” is a mystery anime series that focuses on murder cases, but primarily focusing on Twenty Faces, a vigilante who murders people who have not received justice for murdering their victims.

Where other mystery anime series have a humorous side and often a touch of darkness, “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” has that but in a weird, unusual way, one of the main characters, Kobayashi (a boy who is often mistaken for a girl), has a different perspective of seeing things in life.  Perhaps it’s the way she was raised or the challenges in life that she has endured, but sometimes her thinking puts her in odds with her good friend Hashiba (a guy who obviously likes Kobayashi).

Meanwhile, main protagonist Kogoro Akechi is rather interesting in the fact that he also sees life in a different way, similar to Kobayashi.  But he has skeletons in his past that are slowly revealed throughout the anime series.

As for the Blu-ray, animation is fantastic as colors are vibrant and characters are well-drawn.  Lossless soundtrack for both English and Japanese soundtracks are well-done, with the English dub receiving the 5.1 treatment.  But both soundtracks are well-acted.  As for special features, you get an audio commentary (possibly one of the worst Funimation audio commentaries that I’ve listened to), Japanese promotional videos and commercials.

Overall, “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace: The Complete Series” is for the anime fan who loves mystery anime series.  And it’s also easier to follow since it’s only eleven episodes long.  “Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace” is an anime series worth watching!

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The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The second volume continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him, the volume is important to setup for the second season of the series. If you are into deeper, action-driven anime about warring states and groups on the battlefield, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kodansha, Arslan Project Committee MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 14-25) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: November 8, 2016


Originally created by Hiromu Arakawa, Yoshiki Tanaka

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Series Composition by Makoto Uezu

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Character Design by Kazuo Watanabe, Ushio Tazawa

Art Director: Tadashi Kudo

Chief Animation Director: Kazuo Watanabe, shingo Ogiso, Ushio Tazawa

Anime Production: Liden Films, Sanzigen Animation Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Christopher Bevins as Narsus

Kenn/Jerry Jewell as Gieve

Maaya Sakamoto/Rachel Robinson as Falangies

Natsuki Hanae/Justin Briner as Elam

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Rico Fajardo as Daryun

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Aaron Dismuke as Arslan

Yuuki Kaji/Vic Mignona as Silvermask

Atsuko Tanaka as Tahamine

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jarrod Greene as Kishuard

Hiroshi Yanaka as Sām

Katsuyuki Konishi/Josh Grelle as Shapur

Kenta Miyake/Chris Ryan as Kubad

Kousuke Toriumi/Ian Sinclair as Rajendra

Manami Numakura/Jad Saxton as Alfreed

Masakazu Morita/Clifford Chapin as Xandes

Shiro Saito/Mark Stoddard as Bodan

Takayuki Sugo/Christopher R. Sabat as Andragoras III

Takehito Koyasu/Eric Vale as Giskarl

Toru Ohkawa/Kent Williams as Kharlan

Toshiharu Sakurai/Jeremy Inman as Innocentius VII

Wataru Hatano/Marcus D. Stimac as Jaswant

Yumi Uchiyama/Ryan Reynolds as Etoile


An incomparable anime epic from the original creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa, The Heroic Legend of Arslan brings political intrigue, thrilling action, and a colorful cast of characters together for a grand adventure filled with treachery and triumph.

As Arslan gathers forces to fight for his cause, his progress is suddenly halted by the warring Princes of the neighboring country, Sindhura. Both brothers believe they have equal claim to the throne, but only one can succeed their father. Sensing the opportunity to form a powerful alliance, Arslan’s trusted advisor, Narsus forms a plan to end the feud once and for all. But their detour in Sindhura gives Lord Silver Mask and his followers time to strengthen their own influence back in Pars. The mystery surrounding Arslan’s true parentage has loyal Parsians questioning his right to rule. Shocked by the revelation that he may be fighting for a throne that isn’t his, Arslan has to wonder: Is blood truly what makes a king?  Or is the love he has for Pars and its people enough to see him through.


As Arslan and his companions continue their journey and to find people to fight alongside with them, they meet Prince Rajendra who is competing with his older brother Prince Gadevi who is also from the Kingdom of Sindhura and both are fighting for power.

As Arslan plans to team up with Prince Rajendra, they are provided a Sindhuran guide name Jaswant.  But Prince Gadevi is planning his attack against Rajendra.  Who will become victorious?

Also, Xandes must take on Daryun for the Battle of the “Keep of Saint Emmanuel”.

What is “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” about?

Back in 1986, author Yoshiki Tanaka would create a fantasy novel series titled “Arslan Senki” (a.k.a. “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”).

With a total of 15 novels having been published, the series would then receive a four-part OVA adaptation in the 1990’s, followed by a manga series adaptation (1991-1996), two animated film adaptations and a new manga adaptation in 2013 featuring illustrations by Hiromu Arakawa for “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine”.

In 2015, a TV series anime adaptation based on this 2013 manga aired on television and while a second season began airing in Japan, in the United States, the anime series with an English dub will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series is directed by Noriyuki Abe (“Bleach”, “Black Butler” series, “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”), series composition by Makoto Uezu (“Akame ga KILL!”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Yumeria”), music by Taro Iwashiro (who composed the music for the live action versions of “Azumi”, “Prince of Tennis”, “Rurouni Kenshin”), character designs by Kazuo Watanabe (“Kamen no Maid Guy”, “Oku-sama wa Joshi Kosei”, “Kamen no Maid Guy”) and Ushio Tazawa (“Senyu”) and art direction by Tadashi Kudo (“Gestalt”, “Katanagatari”, “Dokkoida?”).

The series revolves around the kind-hearted Arslan. The Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Pars, who was not originally raised in royalty and has always cared for people. And as he starts to see the world in a bad state, he wants to make a difference.

So, he takes part in the first battle against Lusitania but when King Adragoras III, Arslan’s father is killed by one of his own generals, his loyal servant Daryun rescues him from trouble and they retreat along with the Parsian army.

Wanting to make a different, Arslan and Daryun try to recruit well-known soldiers such as the retired tactician Narsus, his page Elam, the priestess Farangis, the womanizer Gieve and others to their cause.

Meanwhile a mysterious man wearing a silver mask wants nothing more but to see Arslan and his people destroyed.


VIDEO:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Very good animation during the more action intense sequences.

The anime series is colorful but features a slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by Sanzigen Animation Studios and Liden Films.

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and there is good use of the surround channels during sequences with a lot of people, army battles and for action sequences.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2 features the following special features:

  • Chapter XVI Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus), Ian Sinclair (voice of Prince Rajendra), J. Michael Tatum (voice of Prince Gadevi) and Marcus Stimek (voice of Jaswant).
  • Chapter XXIV Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus) and voice talents Vic Mignona (voice of Hilmes) and Aaron Dismuke (voice of Prince Arslan).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”

EXTRAS:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series that deals with warring countries in political stryfe will find “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” to be a series worth their time.

My first brush with “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” were the old Central Park Media OVA releases back in the ’90s and to be truthful, because the English dubs were inconsistent and releases took way too long.

So, I found “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” animated TV series to be more entertaining because there is a lot of focus on character development, a lot of emphasis in the growth of the character of Arslan, not just as a fighter but also his vision of the world.

Also, another major plus is the character development on the people that surround Arslan and watching their adventures, as they are able to recruit allies and some who don’t hesitate in stabbing them in the back. But also showing us the various antagonists throughout the series and how the situations from episode to episode become more complex but also entertaining.

It has a feel of an epic series and while I only have watched the first 13 episodes, from what I have watched thus far, I’m really enjoying this series!

Are there any caveats? I think for those who don’t like series with too many characters or series that are quite long, may find “The Heroic Legend of Arlsan”. These episodes are continuing and there are two seasons but not as long as series such as “One Piece”, “Naruto” or “Dragon Ball”.

As “The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2” features the ongoing journey of Arslan and his companions, this latest volume features how Arslan meets Prince Rajendra and together, they join forces to take on Prince Gadevi, Rajendra’s older brother.

Also, we see more confrntations between Arslan and Silvermask.  And we also get to see more Daryun take part in battle with Xandes and Hilmes.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is good. The series is colorful and I really didn’t see any issues with artifacts or banding. As for the lossless soundtrack, the English dub is very well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack as well. But the English dub gets a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, while the Japanese soundtrack only gets 2.0 (which is typical of anime TV series). And as for special features, you get two audio commentaries and more.

Overall, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters. I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development. While the second volume continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him, the volume is important to setup for the second season of the series.

If you are into deeper, action-driven anime about warring states and groups on the battlefield, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The second half of season one of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is exciting and action-packed!   Featuring a major battle between the human army vs. the vampires!  What will happen when Yu and Mika reunite?  Find out in “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2”!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamamoto, Daisuke Furuya. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season, 1 Part 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 13-24 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: September 27, 2016


Originally created by Daisuke Furuya (Storyboard), Takaya Kagami (Story) and Yamato Yamamoto (Art)

Director: Daisuke TokudoNaoyuki Tatsuwa

Series Composition by Hiroshi Seko

Music by Asami Tachibana, Hiroyuki Sawano, Megumi Shiraishi, Takafumi Wada

Character Design by Satoshi Kadowaki

Art Director: Seiko Yoshioka

Anime Production: Wilt Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaito Ishikawa/Ian Sinclair as Shiho Kimizuki

Kensho Ono/Justin Briner as Mikaela Hyakuya

Miyu Irino/Micah Solusod as Yuichiro Hyakuya

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Chris Burnett as Yoichi Saotome

Saori Hayami/Felecia Angelle as Shinoa Hiragi

Takahiro Sakurai/Eric Vale as Ferid Bathory

Yūichi Nakamura/Dave Trosko as Guren Ichinose

Yuka Iguchi/Alex Moore as Mitsuba Sangu

Aoi Yūki/Monica Rial as Krul Tepes

Atsumi Tanezaki/Skyler McIntosh as Sayuri Hanayori

Daisuke Ono/Duncan Brannan as Norito Goshi

Kenichi Suzumura/Austin Tindle as Crowley Eusford

Tatsuhisa Suzuki/Jerry Jewell as Shinya Hiragi

Tomoaki Maeno as Kureto Hiragi

Yu Shimamura/Trina Nishimura as Mito Jūjō

Yui Ishikawa as Shigure Yukimi


With the Shinjuku Battle behind him and Mika lost to the side of the vampires, Yuichiro begins searching for a way to turn his old friend back into a human. But first, he and the rest of his squad must focus on controlling the powerful demons they’ve made contracts with. If they hope to survive, they’ll have to walk the line between being possessed by their demon’s powers and being completely consumed by them. As they continue training, a new threat appears in the form of Kureto Hiragi the ruthless lieutenant general of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army. While he prefers to keep his true intentions hidden, Kureto makes it clear he can match the cruelty of any vampire. When he receives intel that the main unit of the vampire army plans to attack again, Guren and the rest of the Black Demon Army are sent on a suicide mission deep behind enemy lines. Their objective: exterminate the vampire nobles before humanity makes its last stand and the Seraph of the End is unleashed.


In 2012, mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu”.

While the manga series is ongoing in Japan, the first season of the anime series was released on television in 2015 and was released on Blu-ray + DVD in the US in May 2016.

Produced by Wilt Studios, the anime series is directed by Daisuke Tokudo (“Guilty Crown”, “Hal”), series composition by Hiroshi Seko (“Attack on Titan”, “Ajin: Shototsu”, “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress”), character design by Satoshi Kadowaki (“Attack on Titan”, “Kannagi: Crazy Shine Maidens”) and art direction by Seiko Yoshioka.

“Seraph of the End” begins with an introduction of how an unknown virus brought the world to a sudden end. Only children under 13-years-old survived and those children were enslaved by vampires.

The story introduces us to an impulsive boy named Yuichiro Hyakuya who wants nothing more but to kill vampires. But his friend Mikaela Hyakuya is a boy who is more levelheaded and tries to get his friend to think straight and know they are not powerful enough to defeat them.

For Yuichiro, he wants nothing more but his fellow friends to escape captivity from the underground city of Sanguinem and reach the outside.

And one day, all of them decide to make their escape…but will they be successful?

Yuichiro Hyakuya wants nothing more but to get his revenge on the vampires who killed his friends, especially his best friend, Mikaela Hyakuya, who sacrificed his life in order for Yuichiro to escape.

Fast forward years later and as Yuichiro is wanting to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires, he needs to learn discipline and train for combat. But first he must go through the various tests in school which include being friends with others and being a team player, all are hard for Yuichiro to try and do.

But now is his chance to pass the test to advance, but it means having to partner with another hot-headed teen like himself, who doesn’t mind getting into brawls…Kimizuki.

Will Yuichiro, Kimizuki and Yoichi be ready for their next test? And will Yuichiro make new friends?

Meanwhile, what happened to Mikaela Hyakuya after Yuichiro escaped from the Vampire lair?

In the second half of the first season, Yuichiro still trying to learn more about his special abilities, must find a way to get his cursed gear Asumaru to work with him.

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, interesting partnerships or rivalries created within the ranks of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army and the vampires. The Japanese Imperial Demon Army plans to launch a sneak attack on the vampire nobles and Yuichiro’s team must be ready to go into battle.

The problem is that they continue to work as individuals rather than a team and are not taking the attack as seriously as they should.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Imperial Demon Army is planning to launch a sneak attack on the vampire nobles and Yuichiro’s squad must take on the Fifteenth Progenitor vampire, Lucal Wesker.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Guren Ichinose and Major General Shinya Hiragi work together to take on the Thirteenth Progenitor vampire, Crowley Eusford and vampire nobles, Horn and Chess.

But with their Japanese Imperial Demon Army soldiers being depleted in the war against the nobles, do humans even have a chance?

Or is there a true enemy pulling the strings between the Japanese Imperial Demon Army and the Vampires?


VIDEO:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and definitely a series a television series that caught my attention because it’s not soft, if features amazing detail and is full of colors and really does a great job of complimenting the manga series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” is presented in Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series. The voice acting is fantastic for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Of course, with the English 5.1 soundtrack having better use of more audio channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2″ comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 16 Commentary – Audio Commentary featuring Alex Moore, Ian Sinclair, Felecia Angelle and Dave Trosco.
  • Episode 21 Video Commentary -Video commentary featuring Monica Rial, Justin Briner, Eric Vale and Austin Tindel.
  • Episode 24 Commentary – Audio commentary featuring Micah Solusod, Garrett Storms, Dave Trosco and Justin Briner.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • US Trailer
  • Promo Videos
  • BD/DVD Promos
  • Seraph of the Endless Parts 10-13 – (18:49) Hilarious omake that were shown at the end of each episode.

EXTRAS:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs for this first season.


“Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is a dark fantasy anime series based on the manga by mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya.

The three teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu” (“Seraph of the End”) and an anime adaptation courtesy of Wilt Studios. The series was rather enjoyable as the storyline featured children living underground as slaves of vampires. Literally, as cattle that they can feed upon.

Wanting nothing more but to escape the vampires even though they are not powerful, the main protagonist Yuiichiro is your typical headstrong teen who desires nothing more but to defeat them but desperately wants the power to do so.

But in order to join the Demon Army, he must make friends and learn the importance of family. But as for his orphan family and the person he was most close to, Mikaela…what will happen when Yuichiro find out the boy he called brother, has become a vampire?

While Mika became a vampire, he still harbors his hatred towards the vampires. While Yuichiro, thinking Mika is dead, has used his thirst for revenge to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires. And he has trained with his partners and received discipline and power to fight back.

But when he has a chance to kill the vampires, he is shocked to find out that the one he has to kill is Mikaela, and vice versa, as Mikaela finds out the vampire hunters he is to kill, one is Yuichiro.

But now that they know that one another is alive, what will happen to them now?

In the second half of the series, Yuichiro and his team prepare for the army’s sneak attack against the vampire nobles.  But the group are often messing around and not taking things as seriously as they should.

Do they know the ramifications if one of their own is killed in battle?  Are they ready to face the danger that is coming their way?  For now, the army thinks the team has zero chance because their lack of teamwork.

As the army prepares its sneak attack, the group must team up with Makoto Narumi’s team in order to take out the vampire, Fifteenth Progenitor Lucal Wesker.

Also, the series features the battle against Lucal Wesker but showing how the fight against the other nobles have led to the decimation of squads and now, Lt. Col. Guren Ichinose needs whoever is still alive to launch a fight against the powerful vampire, Crowley Eusford and fellow nobles, Chess and Horn.

Meanwhile, Mikaela Hyakyuya, Yuichiro’s childhood friend who has turned into a vampire is looking for him.  But what will he find?

There is quite a bit of potential that leaved me wanting to watch more after all was done, as the humans vs. vampires war seems to get exciting with each episode.

The animation production by Wilt Studio is fantastic! The series is colorful, well-shaded and the art backgrounds was really well done! The series really compliments the original manga style with violence, darkness and more! So, on Blu-ray, picture quality and lossless audio is fantastic! Voice acting is wonderful on both Japanese and English soundtracks, with the English dub getting a nod for its 5.1 lossless soundtrack!

And the Blu-ray also comes with a good number of special features including a video and two audio commentaries!

Overall, the second half of season one of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is exciting and action-packed!   Featuring a major battle between the human army vs. the vampires!  What will happen when Yu and Mika reunite?

Find out in “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2”!  Recommended!

 

The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters. I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development. So far, I am enjoying this series a lot and I can’t wait for volume 2! “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kodansha, Arslan Project Committee MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 1

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: August 23, 2016


Originally created by Hiromu Arakawa, Yoshiki Tanaka

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Series Composition by Makoto Uezu

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Character Design by Kazuo Watanabe, Ushio Tazawa

Art Director: Tadashi Kudo

Chief Animation Director: Kazuo Watanabe, shingo Ogiso, Ushio Tazawa

Anime Production: Liden Films, Sanzigen Animation Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Christopher Bevins as Narsus

Kenn/Jerry Jewell as Gieve

Maaya Sakamoto/Rachel Robinson as Falangies

Natsuki Hanae/Justin Briner as Elam

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Rico Fajardo as Daryun

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Aaron Dismuke as Arslan

Yuuki Kaji/Vic Mignona as Silvermask

Atsuko Tanaka as Tahamine

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jarrod Greene as Kishuard

Hiroshi Yanaka as Sām

Katsuyuki Konishi/Josh Grelle as Shapur

Kenta Miyake/Chris Ryan as Kubad

Kousuke Toriumi/Ian Sinclair as Rajendra

Manami Numakura/Jad Saxton as Alfreed

Masakazu Morita/Clifford Chapin as Xandes

Shiro Saito/Mark Stoddard as Bodan

Takayuki Sugo/Christopher R. Sabat as Andragoras III

Takehito Koyasu/Eric Vale as Giskarl

Toru Ohkawa/Kent Williams as Kharlan

Toshiharu Sakurai/Jeremy Inman as Innocentius VII

Wataru Hatano/Marcus D. Stimac as Jaswant

Yumi Uchiyama/Ryan Reynolds as Etoile


An incomparable anime epic from the original creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa, The Heroic Legend of Arslan brings political intrigue, thrilling action, and a colorful cast of characters together for a grand adventure filled with treachery and triumph.

Pars Era, the year 320—war is on the horizon. As the soldiers of Pars prepare for battle, a traitor within their ranks turns the tides in favor of the enemy kingdom, Lusitania. Arslan, the young Prince of Pars, survives the massacre to discover that his father has gone missing and his life is in grave danger. Unsure who to trust, Arslan escapes the battlefield, evading capture until he’s found by his loyal friend Daryun, the formidable Black Knight of Pars. With nothing but Arslan’s title and Daryun’s skill, the pair set off on a journey to return the Prince to his rightful place on the throne of Pars.


Back in 1986, author Yoshiki Tanaka would create a fantasy novel series titled “Arslan Senki” (a.k.a. “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”).

With a total of 15 novels having been published, the series would then receive a four-part OVA adaptation in the 1990’s, followed by a manga series adaptation (1991-1996), two animated film adaptations and a new manga adaptation in 2013 featuring illustrations by Hiromu Arakawa for “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine”.

In 2015, a TV series anime adaptation based on this 2013 manga aired on television and while a second season began airing in Japan, in the United States, the anime series with an English dub will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series is directed by Noriyuki Abe (“Bleach”, “Black Butler” series, “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”), series composition by Makoto Uezu (“Akame ga KILL!”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Yumeria”), music by Taro Iwashiro (who composed the music for the live action versions of “Azumi”, “Prince of Tennis”, “Rurouni Kenshin”), character designs by Kazuo Watanabe (“Kamen no Maid Guy”, “Oku-sama wa Joshi Kosei”, “Kamen no Maid Guy”) and Ushio Tazawa (“Senyu”) and art direction by Tadashi Kudo (“Gestalt”, “Katanagatari”, “Dokkoida?”).

The series revolves around the kind-hearted Arslan.  The Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Pars, who was not originally raised in royalty and has always cared for people.  And as he starts to see the world in a bad state, he wants to make a difference.

So, he takes part in the first battle against Lusitania but when King Adragoras III, Arslan’s father is killed by one of his own generals, his loyal servant Daryun rescues him from trouble and they retreat along with the Parsian army.

Wanting to make a different, Arslan and Daryun try to recruit well-known soldiers such as the retired tactician Narsus, his page Elam, the priestess Farangis, the womanizer Gieve and others to their cause.

Meanwhile a mysterious man wearing a silver mask wants nothing more but to see Arslan and his people destroyed.


VIDEO:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing.  Very good animation during the more action intense sequences.

The anime series is colorful but features a slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by Sanzigen Animation Studios and Liden Films.

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and there is good use of the surround channels during sequences with a lot of people, army battles and for action sequences.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 1 features the following special features:

  • Chapter II Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus), Jeremy Inman (Assistant Director), Rico Fajardo (voice of Daryun) and Aaron Dismuke (voice of Arslan).
  • Chapter XIII Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus) and voice talents Rachel Robinson (voice of Farangis), Jerry Jewell (voice of Gieve), Aaron Dismuke (voice of Prince Arslan).
  • Promotional Video – (1:31) Japanese PV for “Arslan Senki”
  • Commercial Collection #1 and #2
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”

EXTRAS:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series that deals with warring countries in political stryfe will find “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” to be a series worth their time.

My first brush with “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” were the old Central Park Media OVA releases back in the ’90s and to be truthful, because the English dubs were inconsistent and releases took way too long.

So, I found “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” animated TV series to be more entertaining because there is a lot of focus on character development, a lot of emphasis in the growth of the character of Arslan, not just as a fighter but also his vision of the world.

Also, another major plus is the character development on the people that surround Arslan and watching their adventures, as they are able to recruit allies and some who don’t hesitate in stabbing them in the back.  But also showing us the various antagonists throughout the series and how the situations from episode to episode become more complex but also entertaining.

It has a feel of an epic series and while I only have watched the first 13 episodes, from what I have watched thus far, I’m really enjoying this series!

Are there any caveats?  I think for those who don’t like series with too many characters or series that are quite long, may find “The Heroic Legend of Arlsan”.  These episodes are continuing and there are two seasons but not as long as series such as “One Piece”, “Naruto” or “Dragon Ball”.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is good.  The series is colorful and I really didn’t see any issues with artifacts or banding.  As for the lossless soundtrack, the English dub is very well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack as well.  But the English dub gets a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, while the Japanese soundtrack only gets 2.0 (which is typical of anime TV series). And as for special features, you get two audio commentaries and more.

Overall, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters.  I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development.  So far, I am enjoying this series a lot and I can’t wait for volume 2!

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season, 1 Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

seraph1

“Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is an exciting, dark and kick ass anime series that I look forward for the second season! An exciting and enjoyable anime series that I definitely recommend!

Image courtesy of © Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamamoto, Daisuke Furuya. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season, 1 Part 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12  (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 24, 2016


Originally created by Daisuke Furuya (Storyboard), Takaya Kagami (Story) and Yamato Yamamoto (Art)

Director: Daisuke TokudoNaoyuki Tatsuwa

Series Composition by Hiroshi Seko

Music by Asami Tachibana, Hiroyuki Sawano, Megumi Shiraishi, Takafumi Wada

Character Design by Satoshi Kadowaki

Art Director: Seiko Yoshioka

Anime Production: Wilt Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaito Ishikawa/Ian Sinclair as Shiho Kimizuki

Kensho Ono/Justin Briner as Mikaela Hyakuya

Miyu Irino/Micah Solusod as Yuichiro Hyakuya

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Chris Burnett as Yoichi Saotome

Saori Hayami/Felecia Angelle as Shinoa Hiragi

Takahiro Sakurai/Eric Vale as Ferid Bathory

Yūichi Nakamura/Dave Trosko as Guren Ichinose

Yuka Iguchi/Alex Moore as Mitsuba Sangu

Aoi Yūki/Monica Rial as Krul Tepes

Atsumi Tanezaki/Skyler McIntosh as Sayuri Hanayori

Daisuke Ono/Duncan Brannan as Norito Goshi

Kenichi Suzumura/Austin Tindle as Crowley Eusford

Tatsuhisa Suzuki/Jerry Jewell as Shinya Hiragi

Tomoaki Maeno as Kureto Hiragi

Yu Shimamura/Trina Nishimura as Mito Jūjō

Yui Ishikawa as Shigure Yukimi


The world of Seraph of the End Vampire Reign is overrun with vampires, and humans have been hunted to the brink of extinction. The only way they can fight back is with a series of demonic weapons known as Cursed Gear. Reserved for soldiers with exceptional talent, these weapons require humans to form pacts with ancient demons in exchange for their power.

Yuichiro Hyakuya is a young member of the Moon Demon Company, a prestigious army squadron armed with Cursed Gear and tasked with exterminating vampires. After the blood-sucking monsters killed his family when he was a child, Yuichiro vowed he wouldn’t stop fighting until every last one was dead.

But when a familiar face from his past appears sporting a new set of fangs, the line drawn between good and evil begins to blur. There’s something special about Yuichiro – a dark power that the vampires call the Seraph of the End. When that power is unleashed, will he be the key to humanity’s salvation or its complete destruction? Don’t miss out on the first season of Seraph of the End Vampire Reign!

 


In 2012, mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu”.

While the manga series is ongoing in Japan, the first season of the anime series was released on television in 2015 and was released on Blu-ray + DVD in the US in May 2016.

Produced by Wilt Studios, the anime series is directed by Daisuke Tokudo (“Guilty Crown”, “Hal”), series composition by Hiroshi Seko (“Attack on Titan”, “Ajin: Shototsu”, “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress”), character design by Satoshi Kadowaki (“Attack on Titan”, “Kannagi: Crazy Shine Maidens”) and art direction by Seiko Yoshioka.

“Seraph of the End” begins with an introduction of how an unknown virus brought the world to a sudden end. Only children under 13-years-old survived and those children were enslaved by vampires.

The story introduces us to an impulsive boy named Yuichiro Hyakuya who wants nothing more but to kill vampires. But his friend Mikaela Hyakuya is a boy who is more levelheaded and tries to get his friend to think straight and know they are not powerful enough to defeat them.

For Yuichiro, he wants nothing more but his fellow friends to escape captivity from the underground city of Sanguinem and reach the outside.

And one day, all of them decide to make their escape…but will they be successful?

Yuichiro Hyakuya wants nothing more but to get his revenge on the vampires who killed his friends, especially his best friend, Mikaela Hyakuya, who sacrificed his life in order for Yuichiro to escape.

Fast forward years later and as Yuichiro is wanting to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires, he needs to learn discipline and train for combat. But first he must go through the various tests in school which include being friends with others and being a team player, all are hard for Yuichiro to try and do.

But now is his chance to pass the test to advance, but it means having to partner with another hot-headed teen like himself, who doesn’t mind getting into brawls…Kimizuki.

Will Yuichiro, Kimizuki and Yoichi be ready for their next test?  And will Yuichiro make new friends?

Meanwhile, what happened to Mikaela Hyakuya after Yuichiro escaped from the Vampire lair?


VIDEO:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and definitely a series a television series that caught my attention because it’s not soft, if features amazing detail and is full of colors and really does a great job of complimenting the manga series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” is presented in Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series. The voice acting is fantastic for both Japanese and English soundtracks.  Of course, with the English 5.1 soundtrack having better use of more audio channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 1″ comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Audio commentary featuring Micah Solusod, Eric Vale and Justin Briner.
  • Episode 8 Commentary – Audio Commentary featuring Alex Moore, Ian Sinclair, Felecia Angelle and Micah Solusod.
  • Episode 11 Volume Commentary – Video Commentary Micah Solusod (voice of Yuichiro), Justin Briner (voice of Mikaela Hyakuya), Felecia Angelle (voice of Shinoa) and Alex Moore (voice of Mitsuba).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs
  • US Trailer
  • Promo Videos
  • BD/DVD Promos
  • Seraph of the Endless Parts 1-9 – (18:49) Hilarious omake that were shown at the end of each episode.

EXTRAS:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs for this first season.


“Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is a dark fantasy anime series based on the manga by mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya.

The three teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu” (“Seraph of the End”) and an anime adaptation courtesy of Wilt Studios.  The series was rather enjoyable as the storyline featured children living underground as slaves of vampires.  Literally, as cattle that they can feed upon.

Wanting nothing more but to escape the vampires even though they are not powerful, the main protagonist Yuiichiro is your typical headstrong teen who desires nothing more but to defeat them but desperately wants the power to do so.

But in order to join the Demon Army, he must make friends and learn the importance of family.  But as for his orphan family and the person he was most close to, Mikaela…what will happen when Yuichiro find out the boy he called brother, has become a vampire?

While Mika became a vampire, he still harbors his hatred towards the vampires.  While Yuichiro, thinking Mika is dead, has used his thirst for revenge to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires.  And he has trained with his partners and received discipline and power to fight back.

But when he has a chance to kill the vampires, he is shocked to find out that the one he has to kill is Mikaela, and vice versa, as Mikaela finds out the vampire hunters he is to kill, one is Yuichiro.

But now that they know that one another is alive, what will happen to them now?

There is quite a bit of potential that leaved me wanting to watch more after all was done, as the humans vs. vampires war seems to get exciting with each episode.

The animation production by Wilt Studio is fantastic!  The series is colorful, well-shaded and the art backgrounds was really well done!  The series really compliments the original manga style with violence, darkness and more!  So, on Blu-ray, picture quality and lossless audio is fantastic!  Voice acting is wonderful on both Japanese and English soundtracks, with the English dub getting a nod for its 5.1 lossless soundtrack!

And the Blu-ray also comes with a good number of special features including a video and two audio commentaries!

Overall, “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is an exciting, dark and kick ass anime series that I look forward for the second season!

An exciting and enjoyable anime series that I definitely recommend!

 

 

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