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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

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

October 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Tokyo Ravens” is an entertaining anime series that kicks off with a lot of fun and humor in the series’ first half, but becomes a bit more darker, magic heavy and action-driven by the second half.  I found the series to be entertaining, a bit banal but it’s a series I enjoyed watching.

Image courtesy of © 2017 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-24 (600 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio for OVA’s and 16×9 for movies, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV14

Release Date: August 8, 2017


Originally Created by Sumihei

Director: Takaomi Kanasaki

Series Composition: Hideyuki Kurata

Music by Maiko luchi

Character Design: Atsuko Watanabe

Art Director: Takashi Ichikura

Art Design: Kazushi Fujii

Anime Production: 8 bit


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaito Ishikawa/Clifford Chapin as Harutora Tsuchimikado

Kana Hanazawa/Caitlin Glass as Natsume Tsuchimikado

Aki Toyosaki/Monica Rial as Kon

Ayane Sakura/Jad Saxton as Suzuka Dairenji

Eri Kitamura/Leah Clark as Kyoko Kurahashi

Fumi Hirano/Wendy Powell as Miyo Kurahashi

Hiro Shimono/Josh Grelle as Tenma Momoe

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Jarrod Greene as Reiji Kagami

Hisako Kanemoto/Felecia Angelle as Hokuto/Takiko Sōma

Koji Yusa/J. Michael Tatum as Jin Ōtomo

Ryohei Kimura/Ian Sinclair as Tōji Ato

Shinya Takahashi as Senjirō Kogure


Harutora may seem like an ordinary guy, but he’s actually a descendant of an ancient and powerful clan of onmyouji. Born without the family talent for magic, he’d always believed he was destined for a normal, boring existence. All that changed the day Natsume, a beautiful face from Harutora’s past, barged back into his life and forever altered the course of his future.


Quite often, there are anime adaptations that are derived from Japanese light novels.  And in 2010, Kohei Azano and illustrator Sumihei created the light novel series “Tokyo Ravens”.

An anime series was released in 2013 and ended in 2014 and in August 2017, “Tokyo Ravens” was released in North America on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series sets up the storyline of how onmyodou magic was a powerful technique used by the Japanese during World War II.  Unfortunately, when onmyoji Yakou Tsuchimikado performed a ritual to bring out Japan as a major force goes wrong and it led to the “Great Spiritual Disaster” which has affected Japan since then.

An Onmyo Agency was developed to monitor supernatural activity and take on spirits or demons that make their way into the world.

Fastforward to this present time in the story where many students learn onmydou magic to utilize their skills in medicine and technology.  Unfortunately for Harutora, a member of the Tsuchimikado branch family, he was born with no spiritual power at all.

But despite coming from a well-known, powerful family, without no spiritual power, he sees his life as meaningless.

He remembers a childhood promise made and one day, he and his friend Touji Ato encounter Hokuto, a girl that Harutora likes and she encourages him to become an onmyo mage.    Meanwhile, he meets his childhood friend Natsume but he accidentally offends her.

As Harutora goes to a festival, Hokuto promises him a kiss if he wins at the festival but out of nowhere, Suzuka Dairenji arrives at the festival and she learns of his true identity, she goes to kiss him and when Hokuto arrives, she is upset to see him receiving a kiss before she can give him one and leaves crying because of it.

One day, while walking home with Natsume, Harutora once again comes across Suzuka and while the Magical Investigation Bureau agents try to stop her and she unleashes her juggernaut.  Harutora tries to save one of the agents but as the juggernaut is about to kill Harutora, Hokuto gets in the way and saves Harutora but is impaled by the mecha juggernaut.

Feeling upset and despondent, Harutora decides to follow the path of becoming an onmyo mage, going to school but also becoming a familiar for Natsume.

How will life go for Harutora now that he plans to focus on school (despite not being that smart) and working together with Natsume to take on various spirits?


VIDEO:

“Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. 8 bit has done a wonderful job with the animation and for the most part, the series looks very good on Blu-ray but like most anime television series, the series does exhibit some softness.  But backgrounds are well-painted, characters are well-shaded and the animation is well done!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” is presented in lossless stereo and both soundtracks are well-done.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear and voice acting is well-done for the most part.  As for the English dub, for the most part, voice acting is well-done and I have to give major props to voice acting newcomer, Clifford Chapin on doing a magnificent job as the voice of main protagonist, Harutora.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” comes with no special features.

  • Audio Commentary for Episode 5 by Clifford Chapin, Monica Rial and Ian Sinclair.
  • Video Commentary for Episode 7 by director Colleen Clinkenbeard, Monica Rial, Ian Sinclair and Clifford Chapin discussing the duties of a voice actor.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 12 – Featuring audio commentary by Caitlin Glass, Leah Clark and Jad Saxton.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 14 – Featuring audio commentary by Clifford Chapin, J. Michael Tatum and Michael Johnson.
  • Video Commentary for Episode 18 by ADR director Zach Bolton, Jad Saxton, Caitlin Glass, Leah Clark.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 23 – Featuring audio commentary by Austin Tindle, Josh Grelle and Jarrod Greene.
  • Kon Explains it All #1-3 – Featuring five minute featurettes (in Japanese with English subtitles) with Kon discussing various characters in the series.
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs
  • U.S. Trailer

“Tokyo Ravens” is an interesting anime that revolves around magic, friendships and love but as Japan has created a plethora of anime series that deal with magic, someone not good at it and eventually becoming stronger to defeat the main antagonist, was this going to be another case of anime banality?

Fortunately, “Tokyo Ravens” is a series that has more going for it thanks to its plot of magical hijinks, crazy characters but also young love which leads to many hilarious situations throughout the series.

The series follows Harutora Tsuchimikado, a son of a major branch family in Japan, the Tsuchimikado Clan but despite being born from a distinguished family known for their onmyouji skills, Harutora has no such skill or magical powers.  He is not smart, many wonder why he’s attending an onmyouji school with no such skills. But he wants to go back to school to find out who was the master of his deceased familiar, Hokuto but also enjoying the friendships he makes along the way.  He has a shikigami silver-fox spirit named Kon who helps him.

He becomes  the familiar for Natsume Tsuchimikado, a childhood friend of Harutora and also from the main family of the Tsuchimikado Clan and is a prodigal onmyouji.  She has come to Harutora’s town in order to make sure he holds up to his childhood promise of becoming her familiar.  Interesting enough, Natsume is assumed to be a reincarnation of Yakou Tsuchimikado, the infamous onmyouji who performed a ritual known as “Taizan Fukun Ritual” which was to bring out Japan as a major force but instead, the ritual went wrong and brought the “Great Spiritual Disaster” which has affected Japan ever since.

Because of this, as a family tradition, she must present herself as a male in front of other onmyouji families and that includes attending school as a boy.  And family tradition means everything to her, while not so much for Harutora.

Harutora’s best friend is a former delinquent named Touji Ato, who knows a lot about onmyodo and often helps Harutora at Onmyo Academy.  He was a victim of the Spiritual Disaster and was possessed by an oni which caused the Spiritual Disaster and Harutora’s father helped treat him, despite Touji having the power to become half-Oni.

Meanwhile, causing problems for Harutora and Natsume throughout their time at the Academy is Suzuka Dairenji, the youngest of the 12 Divine Generals and wants to revive her brother with the Taizan Fukun Ritual.  She and her brother were experimented on by her father before and after their birth in order to create an excellent onmyouji.

The first half of the series is humorous and lighthearted and the series does a wonderful job of focusing on character development but also featuring many character interactions and developing relationships.  It’s what makes the series captivating and not being just a banal magical/action-driven anime series.

While the second half becomes more serious and darker, as it involves the Twin Horn Syndicate, A spirit disaster taking place at the Onmyo Agency branch office and a major death!

What will happen to Harutora and friends during the time of a new spirit disaster but also an ominous threat looming?

I have to say that the first half of the series kept me captivated but by the second half, the mood’s all changed (which is common in anime series) but I felt the second half became a bit more convoluted.   I like the fact that the series focused so much on character development but by the time you start caring for these characters, you are thrust into a different type of storyline for the second half, especially towards the end of the series that grows darker, becomes a bit more complex and for the most part, it went from something that had great potential to an average anime series at the end.

But I did like numerous audio and video commentaries included on this Blu-ray/DVD set of “Tokyo Ravens” and while it is a bit banal, fortunately there is a lot of character development in this series that made watching the series worthwhile.

Overall, “Tokyo Ravens” is an entertaining anime series that kicks off with a lot of fun and humor in the series’ first half, but becomes a bit more darker, magic heavy and action-driven by the second half.  I found the series to be entertaining, a bit banal but it’s a series I enjoyed watching.

Owarimonogatari: Volume 2 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you have enjoyed the various “Monogatari” anime series thus far and you intend to stay with the series for the long run, “Owarimonogatari: Volume 2 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is definitely worth following if you are a dedicated fan of the series.

Image courtesy of © NISIOISIN, ANIPLEX, SHAFT. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Owarimonogatari: Volume 2 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set

YEAR: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 8-13 (150 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: 16+

Release Date: December 20, 2016


Chief Director: Akiyuki Shimbo

Directed by Tomoyuki Itamura

Series Composition by Akiyuki Shimbo, Fuyashi Tou

Music by Kei Haeneoka

Originally Created by NisiOisin

Original Character Design by VOfan

Character Design by Akio Watanabe

Art Director: Ken Naito

Anime Production: SHAFT


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroshi Kamiya as Koyomi Araragi

Kaori Mizuhashi as Ougi Oshino

Marina Inoue as Sodachi Oikura

Chiwa Saito as Hitagi Senjōgahara

Kana Hanazawa as Nadeko Sengoku

Miyuki Sawashiro as Suruga Kanbaru

Saori Hayami as Yotsugi Ononoki

Satsuki Yukino as Izuko Gaen

Yui Horie as Tsubasa Hanekawa


Koyomi’s Rival Appears!!

After the summer break, Koyomi breaks the link with Shinobu Oshino and returns to being human again for the first time in six months. He heads to the cram school ruin with Suruga Kanbaru, but they are attacked by a strange entity wearing Japanese armor. Saved by Yotsugi Ononoki, they head to Izuko Gaen for her advice, but she starts telling them an unbelievable story about Shinobu’s past.


In 2005, a light novel titled “Bakemonogatari” was written by Nisio Isin and featured the illustrations by Vofan.

For Isin, he is known for his “Zaregoto” novel series (2002-2005) which led to series such as “Ningen” and “Sekai”published by Kodansha. By 2006, Isin would begin working on the “Bakemonogatari” series which is based on short stories published in “Mephisto Magazine”.

The first story featured a first volume with three stories “Hitagi Crab”, “Mayoi Snail”, “Suruguta Monkey” and a second volume with two “Nadeko Snake” and “Tsubasa Cat”.

“Bakemonogatari” focused on a third year high school student named Koyomi Araragi. A perverted teenager with a loli complex who doesn’t do well in school. One day, Koyomi was attacked by a vampire named Shinobu Oshino, a 500-year-old vampire who once was a vicious, beautiful vampire but now has the appearance of an eight-year old girl.

Koyomi turned into a vampire but thanks to Meme Oshino (an expert in the apparitions field), he was able to become human again but still has several side effects including seeing in the dark, his eyes turning red when incredibly angry, amazing healing power and strength.

While his parents are away, Koyomi helps raise his two young sisters, Karen (the middle child who is taller than Koyomi and likes to take part in martial arts and outdoor activities) and his little sister Tsukihi, who is the opposite of Karen and rather do indoor activities but also prefers wearing a yukata (Japanese traditional outfit).

With this new power of Koyomi, in “Bakemonogatari”, he had to help characters with apparitions.

Hitagi Senjogahara was a weak-girl who was possessed by a crab that stole her weight. Because of this, she has avoided all contact with people in order to hide her secret, so she developed a tsundere attitude and is often verbally abusive towards Koyomi. Because Koyomi sacrificed her life for her, she and Koyomi start dating, despite how badly she treats him.

Koyomi also had to help a ghost of a fifth-grade elementary student named Mayou Hachikuchi, a girl who has a habit of saying Koyomi’s name wrong but yet knows that he has a loli complex and knows that he is always trying to touch her.

Suruga Kanbaru, a popular female athlete who is a lesbian and masochist and prefers to be at home in the nude. She inherited the Monkey’s Paw and thus wears a bandage on her one arm to hide it. She began stalking Koyomi when he found out he was dating Hitagi.

Nadeko Sengoku is a person who was cursed with invisible snakes (that were trying to strangle her). Thanks to Koyomi, he saved her life and while shy, likes to be close to Koyomi.

Tsubasa Hanekawa is Koyomi’s classmate and the class representative. She was possessed by a bakaneko and is danger of turning into Black Hanekawa. She often stresses about her family and her feelings for Koyomi.

The first series revolved around Koyomi trying to help these characters deal with their apparition.

A prequel to “Bakemonogatari” titled “Koyomi Vamp” which focused on Shinobu Oshino and her role as a vampire before attacking Koyomi and a separate volume known as “Kizumonogatari” was published in Pandora Magazine in 2008.

In 2009, “Bakemonogatari” was adapted into an anime series.

The sequel to “Bakemonogatari” titled “Nisemonogatari” which was released in 2008 and adapted to an anime series in 2012.

The story focuses more on a character, instead of a two-episode storyline, we get four-episode arcs. And with “Otorimonogatari: Nadeko Medusa”, episodes 12-15 focus on Nadeko starting to see a giant snake apparition and the arc beginning with her confronting Shinobu and Koyomi and Nadeko stabbing Koyomi in the heart.

The story then explains what has been happening to Nadeko leading up to the confrontation and what the giant snake apparition may be.

In 2014, a five episode arc was released titled “Hanamonogatari” which is about the character Suruga Kanbaru.

And in October through November 2015, the Owarimonogatari novels anime adaptation aired on Japanese television.

And now we have the release of the 13-episode anime series on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.  The first seven episodes were released in November 2016 and now the final half was released in December 2016.

In the last volume of “Owarimonogatari”, the anime series begins with Koyomi Aragi and Ougi Oshino being trapped in a classroom.

The story shows us how Suruga Kanbaru introduces Ougi to Koyomi for the first time. Ougi had introduced Koyomi to a mysterious room in the school and the two investigate. This leads to both of them being trapped inside and the room is a manifestation of a traumatic memory from Koyomi’s freshman year.

Apparently around that time, the class president, Sodachi Oikura was looking for those who cheated on a math test and no one can leave the class until the cheater was found. Ougi figures that the two are unable to leave until the mystery is revealed.

But as these two start to investigate, they start to learn more about Sodachi Oikura and why she despises Koyomi.

In volume 2 of “Owarimonogatari”, the series focuses on the Shinobu Mail Arc.

Koyomi goes to meet his athletic basketball playing friend, Suruga Kanbaru at an abandoned cram school.  But they see a samurai in full armor and a fight breaks out and Suruga is fighting against the samurai.  As the building catches fire, Yozuru’s shikigami, Yotsugi appears and stops the fire.  And saves both Koyomi Araragi and Suruga Kanbaru.

Yotsugi wants Koyomi to meet with Izuko Gaen (as she appears to know everything) but when a mysterious apparition shows up, Koyomi, Suruga and Koyomi’s vampire friend, Shinobu take on the mysterious apparition.  But why did Yotsugi want Koyomi to meet up with Izuko?


VIDEO:

“Owarimonogatari: Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is presented in 1080p High Definition and this TV series is gorgeous. SHAFT really puts a lot of time into character design, shading but also carrying out changes in character design.

As this is a more modern of the “Monogatari” series, animation is crisp and colors are vibrant. Black levels are nice and deep, animation gets creative in an artistic type of way, image is sharp and line detail is very good. I saw no edge enhancement or excessive banding.

“Owarimonogatari” looks fantastic on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Owarimonogatari: Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is presented in uncompressed Japanese LPCM 2.0 with English subtitles. Dialogue is crisp and clear and is front-channel driven. I detected no problems with audio and English subtitles were easy to read.

It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs with this Blu-ray set.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Owarimonogatari: Volume 2 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” comes the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Ending
  • PV –  Japanese Promotional Videos
  • CM – Japanese Commercials

EXTRAS:

“Owarimonogatari: Volume 2 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” comes with a slip case package illustrated by Akio Watanabe, a 20-page deluxe booklet and an eight pinup postcard set.


For years, we have watched the “Monogatari” series blossom to something unusual, unexpected, complex, entertaining, audacious and for the most part, unpredictable.

It’s a sci-fi series in which storylines are connected but yet focus on certain characters.

As for 2015, the “Owarimonogatari” series was released and in some ways, for those who have watched previous “Monogatari” episodes or seasons will like the fact that characters are reunited and the mysterious apparition once again makes his appearance.

With this final half of “Owarimonogatari”, both Koyomi and Suruga encounter mysterious characters, but its not until they are told by Yotsugi that Koyomi must meet with Izuko Gaen, and mysteries surrounding the mysterious apparition are revealed.

As for the Blu-ray release,”Owarimonogatari: Volume 2 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is presented in 1080p High Definition and picture quality is great. Colors are vibrant and I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding during my viewing of the film. As for lossless audio, only a Japanese soundtrack is included and it is presented in Linear PCM Stereo. While the Japanese voice acting for the series has always been fantastic, for those who prefer to watch the series in English, there is no English dub soundtrack.

As for special features, you get a the usual textless opening and ending themes. Plus the PV and CM (commercial) collections. As for extras, you get the Aniplex swag which the company is known for. The Limited Edition set includes a 20-page deluxe booklet, an eight pinup postcard set and slipcase package illustrated by Akio Watanabe (character designer).

If anything, the “Monogatari” series is one that people love because it’s original, artistic and definitely a breath of fresh air for those wanting creativity and something totally different from the norm.

But with that being said, because the storyline is not one for people to jump in and anywhere, one will want to watch it from the beginning and work yourself up to “Owarimonogatari” for a better understanding of the impact that each character has made throughout the various series.

Overall, if you have enjoyed the “Monogatari” anime series thus far, “Owarimonogatari: Volume 2 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is worth following if you are a dedicated fan of the series.

Maria the Virgin Witch (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Maria the Virgin Witch” is an entertaining anime series that manages to balance action, comedy and drama with efficacy. It’s a short anime series but nevertheless, a damn good one. “Maria the Virgin Witch” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Masayuki Ishikawa – KODANSHA. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Maria the Virgin Witch

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 MA

Release Date: September 27, 2016


Originally created by Masayuki Ishikawa

Director: Goro Taniguchi

Series Composition by Hideyuki Kurata

Script by Hideyuki Kurata

Music by Masato Koda

Character Design by Yuriko Chiba

Art Director:  Shigemi Ikeda

Anime Production: Production I.G.


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hisako Kanemoto/Alexis Tipton as Maria

Ai Kakuma/Lara Woodhull as Anne

Bin Shimada/Barry Yandell as Guillaume

Kana Hanazawa/Leah Clark as Ezekiel

Kensho Ono/Austin Tindle as Joseph

Kenta Miyake/Jeremy Inman as Yvain

Kikuko Inoue/Caitlin Glass as Michael

Mamiko Noto/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Viv

Mikako Komatsu/Jerry Jewell as Priapos

Miyuki Ichijou/Linda Leonard as Martha

Natsuki Hanae/Joel McDonald as Gilbert

Sachiko Kojima/Alex Moore as Lolotte

Takahiro Sakurai/Sonny Strait as Bernard

Yōko Hikasa/Whitney Rodgers as Artemis


Don’t miss this intriguing tale of magic, war, and sexual politics from Production I.G., the studio that brought you Eden of the East, FLCL, and Ghost in the Shell! In the time of the Hundred Years’ War, a young and powerful witch known as Maria leads a reclusive existence. Shunned by the church – but beloved by a few locals – Maria endeavors to use her magic to bring an end to the warfare she so despises. Using her magical ability, she aids humanity alongside her two familiars: a seductive succubus and an incubus who’s a little incomplete. Though she seeks only peace, the archangel Michael despises the way she uses magic to interfere with human affairs and decrees that should she ever manage to lose her virginity, her powers will vanish! To ensure that Maria no longer mixes magic with warfare, Michael sends the angel Ezekiel to keep a watchful eye on the virgin witch. In theory, his plan is sound. But keeping a fiery young woman bound by the rules of a higher power might prove too daunting even for an ever-vigilant angel.


In 2008, Masayuki Ishikawa (creator of the manga series “Moyashimon”) created the manga series “Junketsu no Maria” (which translates to “Maria the Virgin”).

With three volumes created, an anime adaptation was created by Production I.G. from January through March 2015.

The series is directed by Goro Taniguchi (“Active Raid”, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, “Infinite Ryvius”), screenplay by Hideyuki Kurata (“Android Ana Maico 2010”, “Bamboo Blade”, “Dragon Crisis!”, “Kamichu!”), music by Masato Koda (“Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen”, “Arpeggio of Blue Steel”), character designs by Yuriko Chiba (“Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, “Brave Story”, “Berserk”) and art direction by Shigemi Ikeda (“Black Cat”, “Basilisk”, “Bastard!!”, “Afro Samurai”).

And now the anime series has been released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The anime series is set in France during the Hundred Years’ War between the House of Plantagenet (rulers of the Kingdom of England) against the House of Valois (rulers of the Kingdom of France).

Tired of the warring nations and deaths, Maria, a virgin witch uses her succubus and incubus familiars to manipulate the opposing factions and using large-scale illusions in order to help the people and maintain peace.

While witches are seen as heretics, because of Maria’s ideal of helping people, she becomes to be appreciated (and depended on) by villagers but the Church brands her as heretic because she denounces God.

While Maria questions when she will lose her virginity, thanks to the people around her that keeps wondering if she will ever lose it, Maria starts to wonder if she will ever lose her virginity.

Meanwhile, the Archangel Michael has heard of what Maria has done and is upset that she interfered with human affairs and makes the declaration that if she loses her virginity, she will lose her magical powers.  He also forbids her from using any magic and sends an angel named Ezekiel to watch over her.

But when more fighting begins to happen again, Maria wants to interfere to stop the fighting.  But will she?  Or will she try to keep to herself?

The main characters of “Maria the Virgin Witch” are”

  • Maria – A very powerful witch who doesn’t like to see people fighting and killing each other.  So, she interferes to the chagrin of the Church and Archangel Michael.
  • Artemis – Maria’s succubus familiar who often teases Maria for her virginity.
  • Priapus – Maria’s incubus familiar who lacks a penis because Maria doesn’t know what it looks like.
  • Ezekiel – An angel sent by Archangel Michael to watch over Maria and that she doesn’t uses her power.  She begins to sympathize with Maria.
  • Joseph – Serves under Guillaume and is in love with Maria.  He is a virgin and is always there for her.
  • Garfa – A mercenary of the French army who is upset with Maria and wants revenge for her interference (and for losing an arm).

VIDEO:

“Maria the Virgin Witch” is presented in 1080p High Definition. While I haven’t read the manga to know if the character designs are inspired from the manga, I will say that compared to other Production I.G. series, the character designs are much simpler in terms of line art but the background art is well-detailed.  Colors are vibrant but like most TV series, there is a slight softness.  But for the most part, animation is well-done and Production I.G. did a great job animating this series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Maria the Virgin Witch” 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:

“Maria the Virgin” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Audio Commentary featuring director Sonny Strait (voice of Bernard), voice actress Alexis Tipton (voice of Maria) and Austin Tindle (voice of Joseph).
  • Episode 12 Commentary – Audio commentary featuring director Sonny Strait (voice of Bernard), voice actor Chris Rager (voice of Galfa) and Leah Clark (voice of Ezekiel).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • US Trailer
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Maria the Virgin Witch” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs for the series.


I have to admit that I was surprised that Masayuki Ishikawa’s “Junketsu no Maria” would receive an anime adaptation, because only three volumes of the manga series have been created.

But considering that popularity of the manga series, the chapters created are enough for a full season and the response for the anime series has been quite positive.

For one, it’s a unique storyline that takes place during the Hundred Years’ War and involves a powerful witch who is good and wants peace, a powerful archangel and the Church and its belief that all witches are heretics and for the most part, how religious beliefs can cause issues between those who support Maria, but at the same time, do not want to risk their status or their family status by supporting a witch.

Throw in other characters and of course, comedy that teases Maria of her virginity and what you get is a action-packed comedy at first, but then the series suddenly becomes more serious and dramatic when Maria loses her powers and the Church captures her and wants to imprison her as a heretic.

For the most part, while I don’t know the differences between the manga and the anime, I will say that “Maria the Virgin Witch” manages to have an ending that is quite fitting.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is colorful and dialogue and music are crystal clear.  Voice acting is magnificent and for special features, you get two audio commentaries, textless opening and endings and trailers.  Just make sure you listen to the first audio commentary because it’s one of the more wilder (and enjoyable) audio commentaries I have heard in my life… poor Alexis Tipton.

Overall, “Maria the Virgin Witch” is an entertaining anime series that manages to balance action, comedy and drama with efficacy.  It’s a short anime series but nevertheless, a damn good one.

“Maria the Virgin Witch” is recommended!

 

Owarimonogatari: Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you have enjoyed the “Monogatari” anime series thus far, “Owarimonogatari: Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is worth following if you are a dedicated fan of the series.

Image courtesy of © NISIOISIN, ANIPLEX, SHAFT. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Owarimonogatari: Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set

YEAR: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 1-7 (175 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: 16+

Release Date: November 25, 2016


Chief Director: Akiyuki Shimbo

Directed by Tomoyuki Itamura

Series Composition by Akiyuki Shimbo, Fuyashi Tou

Music by Kei Haeneoka

Originally Created by NisiOisin

Original Character Design by VOfan

Character Design by Akio Watanabe

Art Director: Ken Naito

Anime Production: SHAFT


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroshi Kamiya as Koyomi Araragi

Kaori Mizuhashi as Ougi Oshino

Marina Inoue as Sodachi Oikura

Chiwa Saito as Hitagi Senjōgahara

Kana Hanazawa as Nadeko Sengoku

Miyuki Sawashiro as Suruga Kanbaru

Saori Hayami as Yotsugi Ononoki

Satsuki Yukino as Izuko Gaen

Yui Horie as Tsubasa Hanekawa


“I don’t know anything. But YOU know about it, Araragi.”

One day, Suruga Kanbaru introduces Koyomi Araragi to a new transfer student by the name of Ougi Oshino. She claims that she is the niece of Meme Oshino. She tells Koyomi that she draws a map of every school she transfers to, and she points out there is a mysterious hidden classroom in the Naoetsu High. After getting trapped in the classroom which shouldn’t exist in this world, Koyomi starts remembering some incidents from his past…


In 2005, a light novel titled “Bakemonogatari” was written by Nisio Isin and featured the illustrations by Vofan.

For Isin, he is known for his “Zaregoto” novel series (2002-2005) which led to series such as “Ningen” and “Sekai”published by Kodansha. By 2006, Isin would begin working on the “Bakemonogatari” series which is based on short stories published in “Mephisto Magazine”.

The first story featured a first volume with three stories “Hitagi Crab”, “Mayoi Snail”, “Suruguta Monkey” and a second volume with two “Nadeko Snake” and “Tsubasa Cat”.

“Bakemonogatari” focused on a third year high school student named Koyomi Araragi. A perverted teenager with a loli complex who doesn’t do well in school. One day, Koyomi was attacked by a vampire named Shinobu Oshino, a 500-year-old vampire who once was a vicious, beautiful vampire but now has the appearance of an eight-year old girl.

Koyomi turned into a vampire but thanks to Meme Oshino (an expert in the apparitions field), he was able to become human again but still has several side effects including seeing in the dark, his eyes turning red when incredibly angry, amazing healing power and strength.

While his parents are away, Koyomi helps raise his two young sisters, Karen (the middle child who is taller than Koyomi and likes to take part in martial arts and outdoor activities) and his little sister Tsukihi, who is the opposite of Karen and rather do indoor activities but also prefers wearing a yukata (Japanese traditional outfit).

With this new power of Koyomi, in “Bakemonogatari”, he had to help characters with apparitions.

Hitagi Senjogahara was a weak-girl who was possessed by a crab that stole her weight. Because of this, she has avoided all contact with people in order to hide her secret, so she developed a tsundere attitude and is often verbally abusive towards Koyomi. Because Koyomi sacrificed her life for her, she and Koyomi start dating, despite how badly she treats him.

Koyomi also had to help a ghost of a fifth-grade elementary student named Mayou Hachikuchi, a girl who has a habit of saying Koyomi’s name wrong but yet knows that he has a loli complex and knows that he is always trying to touch her.

Suruga Kanbaru, a popular female athlete who is a lesbian and masochist and prefers to be at home in the nude. She inherited the Monkey’s Paw and thus wears a bandage on her one arm to hide it. She began stalking Koyomi when he found out he was dating Hitagi.

Nadeko Sengoku is a person who was cursed with invisible snakes (that were trying to strangle her). Thanks to Koyomi, he saved her life and while shy, likes to be close to Koyomi.

Tsubasa Hanekawa is Koyomi’s classmate and the class representative. She was possessed by a bakaneko and is danger of turning into Black Hanekawa. She often stresses about her family and her feelings for Koyomi.

The first series revolved around Koyomi trying to help these characters deal with their apparition.

A prequel to “Bakemonogatari” titled “Koyomi Vamp” which focused on Shinobu Oshino and her role as a vampire before attacking Koyomi and a separate volume known as “Kizumonogatari” was published in Pandora Magazine in 2008.

In 2009, “Bakemonogatari” was adapted into an anime series.

The sequel to “Bakemonogatari” titled “Nisemonogatari” which was released in 2008 and adapted to an anime series in 2012.

The story focuses more on a character, instead of a two-episode storyline, we get four-episode arcs. And with “Otorimonogatari: Nadeko Medusa”, episodes 12-15 focus on Nadeko starting to see a giant snake apparition and the arc beginning with her confronting Shinobu and Koyomi and Nadeko stabbing Koyomi in the heart.

The story then explains what has been happening to Nadeko leading up to the confrontation and what the giant snake apparition may be.

In 2014, a five episode arc was released titled “Hanamonogatari” which is about the character Suruga Kanbaru.

And in October through November 2015, the Owarimonogatari novels anime adaptation aired on Japanese television.

And now the first volume featuring episodes 1-7 of the 12-episode anime series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

In “Owarimonogatari”, the anime series begins with Koyomi Aragi and Ougi Oshino being trapped in a classroom.

The story shows us how Suruga Kanbaru introduces Ougi to Koyomi for the first time.  Ougi had introduced Koyomi to a mysterious room in the school and the two investigate.  This leads to both of them being trapped inside and the room is a manifestation of a traumatic memory from Koyomi’s freshman year.

Apparently around that time, the class president, Sodachi Oikura was looking for those who cheated on a math test and no one can leave the class until the cheater was found.   Ougi figures that the two are unable to leave until the mystery is revealed.

But as these two start to investigate, they start to learn more about Sodachi Oikura and why she despises Koyomi.


VIDEO:

“Owarimonogatari: Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is presented in 1080p High Definition and this TV series is gorgeous. SHAFT really puts a lot of time into character design, shading but also carrying out changes in character design.

As this is a more modern of the “Monogatari” series, animation is crisp and colors are vibrant.  Black levels are nice and deep, animation gets creative in an artistic type of way, image is sharp and line detail is very good. I saw no edge enhancement or excessive banding.

“Owarimonogatari” looks fantastic on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Owarimonogatari: Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is presented in uncompressed Japanese LPCM 2.0 with English subtitles. Dialogue is crisp and clear and is front-channel driven. I detected no problems with audio and English subtitles were easy to read.

It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs with this Blu-ray set.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Owarimonogatari: Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” comes with trailers for the anime series, PV & CM collections and the textless opening and ending themes.

EXTRAS:

“Owarimonogatari: Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” comes with a slip case package illustrated by Akio Watanabe, a 28-page deluxe booklet and a ten pinup postcard set.


For years, we have watched the “Monogatari” series blossom to something unusual, unexpected, complex, entertaining, audacious and for the most part, unpredictable.

It’s a sci-fi series in which storylines are connected but yet focus on certain characters.

As for 2015, the “Owarimonogatari” series, the first seven episodes focus on three characters: Koyomi Araragi, Ougi Oshino and Sodachi Oikura.

As Koyomi and Ougi are trapped in a mysterious room in school and none of them are able to leave until they solve a two-year-old mystery of a culprit who cheated on their math test and no one was able to leave class until the culprit was found, both Koyomi and Ougi start to look into the class president, Sodachi Oikura, who was looking for the culprits at the time.

Back then, Sodachi voted that Koyomi was the cheater, but the majority of the class had chosen her.  This led to Sodachi to stop coming to school and for Koyomi, losing his trust in people and become a recluse until he met the girls who would eventually lead him to the path that he is currently at in life.

As both Koyomi and Ougi try to figure out who was the true culprit, the two want to know why Sodachi harbors hatred towards Koyomi.

While the series may not feature a lot of the other female characters that revolve around Koyomi’s life, this is a mystery series that focuses on Koyomi, Ougi and Sodachi for the first seven episodes.

As for the Blu-ray release,”Owarimonogatari: Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is presented in 1080p High Definition and picture quality is great. Colors are vibrant and I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding during my viewing of the film. As for lossless audio, only a Japanese soundtrack is included and it is presented in Linear PCM Stereo. While the Japanese voice acting for the series has always been fantastic, for those who prefer to watch the series in English, there is no English dub soundtrack.

As for special features, you get a the usual textless opening and ending themes. Plus the PV and CM (commercial) collections. As for extras, you get the Aniplex swag which the company is known for. The Limited Edition set includes a 28-page deluxe booklet, a ten pinup postcard set and slipcase package illustrated by Akio Watanabe (character designer).

Overall, if you have enjoyed the “Monogatari” anime series thus far, “Owarimonogatari: Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set” is worth following if you are a dedicated fan of the series.

Nisekoi: False Love – Second Season, Volume 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

nisekoi-s2v2

“Nisekoi: False Love” is an enjoyable, humorous and crazy anime series and with this latest volume, you get a few episodes focusing on the Onodera sisters, especially the introduction of Kosaki’s younger sister Haru. But how will Haru behave when she meets the guy that her sister likes…Ichijo? If you love romantic comedies, “Nisekoi: False Love” is an enjoyable, fun anime series which I can easily recommend!

Image courtesy of © Naoshi Komi/SHUEISHA, SHAFT, MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Nisekoi: False Love: Season 2, Volume 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 27-32 (Season 2: Episodes 7-12) (144 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 23, 2016


Originally created by Naoshi Komi

Chief Director: Akiyuki Simbo

Director: Naoyuki Tatsuwa

Script by Akiyuki Simbo, Fuyashi Tou

Character Design by Nobuhiro Sugiyama

Art Director: Ken Naito

Anime Production: SHAFT


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kana Hanazawa as Kosaki Onodera

Kouki Uchiyama as Raku Ichijō

Nao Tōyama as Chitoge Kirisaki

Kana Asumi as Marika Tachibana

Mikako Komatsu as Seishirō Tsugumi

Takehito Koyasu as Claude

Yumi Uchiyama as Ruri Miyamoto

Yuuki Kaji as Shū Maiko


10 years ago, Raku made a secret promise with a girl he met that they would “get married when they reunite.” Since then, he never let go of the pendant she gave him…

It is spring. Kosaki’s little sister, Haru, is now a first-year at Bonyari High School, and she’s bursting with anticipation over her new life. But on her very first day, she finds herself in a huge predicament – surrounded by delinquents!

The last thing Haru sees just before she passes out from terror, is a boy wearing the uniform of her own school, coming to her defense. She believes that this was a fateful encounter with a “prince” whose face she never saw, and whose name she doesn’t know. Will she meet him once again…? Find out in Nisekoi 2 Volume 2!


There’s a new girl in school and she absolutely despises Raku…or does she?

Her name is Haru Onodera, the younger sister of Kosaki and she will do anything to protect her older sister.

Meanwhile, Onodera has been eating quite a bit of snacks lately.  But what happens when she thinks she is gaining weight and feels that Ichijo will no longer want to be near her?

What happens when Ichijo finds out that Onodera’s birthday is coming up and he asks her younger sister Haru for shopping tips?

It’s the conclusion of the second season for “Nisekoi: False Love″!

What is “Nisekoi: False Love”?

Naoshi Komi’s manga work is well-known for readers of “Weekly Shonen Jump”.

From “Koi no Kami-sama”, “Williams” and “Double Arts”, Komi’s manga “Nisekoi” (False Love) was created as a one shot for Jump NEXT! in 2011 but then receiving the go-ahead as a weekly manga serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”. It was also one of the first manga to receive an English translation online courtesy of Shueisha and also received a 20-episode anime series which aired on Tokyo MX and a second season in 2015 featuring 12 episodes and an OVA.

The anime series produced by SHAFT and was directed by Naoyuki Tatsuwa (“Katteni Kazo”, “Kofuku Graffiti”), series composition by Akiyuki Simbo (“Hidamari Sketch”, Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko”, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”) and Fuyashi Tou (“Bakemonogatari”, “Hanamonogatari”, “Tsukimonogatari”), character design by Nobuhiro Sugiyama (“Puella Magi Madoka”, “ef: a tale of memories”, “Arakawa Under the Bridge”) and art direction by Ken Naito (“Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Hanamonogatari”, “Koufuki Graffiti”, “CODE-E”).

“Nisekoi: False Love” revolves around high school Raku Ichijou. When Ichijou was a kid, he met a girl and he kept a lock, she kept the key and promised each other to get married if they one day find each other.

Since then, Ichijou has kept his promise and has worn the lock around his neck and has been hoping to meet her again.

But Ichijou’s life is a little complicated. While a good-natured individual, unfortunately for him, he is the son of the leader of the Shuei-gumi yakuza syndicate. He has no interested in become part of the yakuza but everyone expects him to be the next one to lead the syndicate in the future.

Meanwhile, while going to school, he sees a foreign girl jumping from a wall and landing on him. He loses the lock on his neck and is very upset of what had transpired. Next thing you know in class, that same girl becomes a new student in his class.

Chitoge Kirisaki just moved from the U.S. to Japan and since her mom is Japanese and her dad is America, she is fluent in both Japanese and English. And suffice to say, when both Ichijou and Kirisaki see each other, they start yelling at each other and she nails him with a hit after he calls her “monkey girl”. People see how tough she is but to make them get along, his teacher puts Ichijou in charge of showing her around school.

He tries his best but the two are like oil and water, they just don’t get along. For the next week of trying to assist her, the two end up arguing and getting in each other’s faces.

If anything, Ichijou focus is more on finding the lock that was lost when Kirisaki landed on him. And he wonders if Kosaki Onodera, the popular girl in school and a person who has treated him with nothing but kindness is the girl that he made the promise with. He hopes it is her.

But just when Ichijou is about to give up, Onodera pleads with him to keep his promise and Ichijou is reminded that a promise is a promise and he intends to keep it. But wants to ask Onodera if there is any chance she may be the girl he made the promise too.

What he doesn’t know is that Onodera does have a key and she has always liked Ichijou but doesn’t have the guts to tell him.

But as Ichijou wonders if Onodera is the girl he made a promise too and excited for the possibility that it might be, when he gets home, his father talks to him about something important.

The problem is that the Shuei-gumi and the rival Beehive Gang are in the brink of all-out war that would damage both yakuza gangs, he and the other leader have come up with the plan. Ichijou must pretend to be dating the daughter of the leader of the Beehive Gang.

Ichijou doesn’t want to get involved and his father told him that he must forget dating any other girl and focus liking this girl they set him up with.

When the two are introduces, Ichijou is shocked that the girl is Chitoge Kirisaki. And for both of them, they must promise to be boyfriend and girlfriend for three whole years and be convincing to both yakuza gangs that they are truly in love.

Both don’t want to be involved with each other but they have no choice. But now they must find a way to co-exist with each other as both yakuza gangs are suspicious of their relationship especially Kirisaki’s guardian, Claude.

Meanwhile, Ichijou still wants to ask Onodera if she is the girl with the key and Onodera is about to let him know that she is. But before they can, the whole school are told that both Ichijo and Kirasaki are boyfriend and girlfriend.

And now it has made things tough for both Ichijou and Kirisaki, but can they keep this charade of being in love with each other, especially if they despite one another?

For the start of the second season, it’s a new school year as Onodera’s sister Haru becomes a new student who absolutely despises Raku.  And now, she wants to do all she can to protect her older sister.

Meanwhile, Onodera wants to continue to get Ichijo’s attention but when she gains weight, she starts to avoid him.


The main characters of “Nisekoi: False Love″ are:

  • Raku Ichijou – While a good-natured individual, unfortunately for him, he is the son of the leader of the Shuei-gumi yakuza syndicate. He has no interested in become part of the yakuza but everyone expects him to be the next one to lead the syndicate in the future. He is forced to pretend he is in a relationship with Chitoge Kirisaki in order to prevent a gang war. He sees Chitoge to be rude and cold, and he has always liked Kosaki Onodera. Raku wears a lock on his necklace and made a promise to marry the person who has the key to open the lock.
  • Chitoge Kirisaki – Chitoge just moved from the U.S. to Japan and since her mom is Japanese and her dad is America, she is fluent in both Japanese and English. She has blonde hair and her father is the leader of a rival gang. She must pretend to be in a relationship with Raku Ichijo in order to prevent a gang war. She is not refined as is often beating or saying something cold to Raku.
  • Kosaki Onodera – Raku’s classmate and the girl he has always liked. He doesn’t know that Kosaki has always liked him and happens to have a key that may open the lock that Raku has. She is very shy and it not a good cook.
  • Haru Onodera – Kosaki’s younger sister who is starting high school.  She falls for the guy who saved her, but because she was fainting, she is not aware that Ichijo is responsible for saving her.  Meanwhile, Haru can’t stand that her sister has fell for a guy that has all these girls around him.
  • Ruri Miyamoto – Onodera’s best friend who is doing all she can to help her gain the courage to tell Raku how she feels.
  • Seishiro Tsugumi – Known as “The Black Tiger”, a hitwoman raised and trained by Claude. While a tomboy, she starts to develop feelings towards Raku.
  • Marika Tachibana – Another girl from Raku’s past. She had loved Raku as a child and went as far as changed herself to the way he asked her to. Also, Raku’s father neglected to tell him that he made an agreement with the Police Comissioner (Marika’s father) that they were engaged in order to build relationship between the gang and the police. Unlike the other girls who are shy to show their feelings towards Raku, Marika is more upfront about her feelings and her actions.
  • Claude – The assistant to Chitoge’s father. He doesn’t believe that Raku and Chitoge is in a relationship and will do anything to find out the truth.

VIDEO:

“Nisekoi: False Love” 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!

SHAFT did a wonderful job on the animation and the series definitely compliments Naoshi Komi’s manga series!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Nisekoi: False Love” is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series. The voice acting by Kana Hanazawa, Kouki Uchiyama and Nao Toyama are well-done!

It’s important to emphasize to those interested in this series on Blu-ray that there are no English dubbed soundtrack included.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Nisekoi: False Love – Season Two, Volume 2″ comes with the Textless Opening for “Magical*Styling”, Textless Ending for “Toriame drop”, “marchen ticktack” and “Crayon Cover”.

EXTRAS:

“Nisekoi: False Love – Season Two, Volume 2″ comes with a slipcase and eight collectable cards.


With the latest volume of “Nisekoi: False Love”, we have storylines that focus on both Kosaki and Haru Onodera.

Kosaki’s younger sister Haru is now going to high school and because she is unaware of guys (since she came from an all girl school), nor has she had contact with foreigners, seeing all these women around Ichijo upsets her, because she knows her sister likes him a lot.

But for Haru, she is unaware that the mysterious guy she has fallen for (because he saved her) is Ichijo.

Meanwhile, when the Onodera sisters get sick, what happens when Ichijo must take care of both of them?

Also, what happens when Chitoge loses her favorite ribbon and Ichijo tries to find it.  A sweet bonding time for the two but will Chitoge confess her true feelings for Ichijo?

For Onodera, she feels that she has gained too much weight from eating plenty of snacks, so she starts to avoid Ichijo.  What happens when she does that?

Sure, there have been many anime series that have tapped into the story of a promise made in childhood of marriage from “Love Hina” to “Ore no Kanojo to Osanajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru” (better known as “Oreshura”).

But what “Nisekoi” does differently is throw a major wrench into this possible love romance by putting the male protagonist in search of his future wife, to fulfill a family promise to have a relationship with the daughter of a rival gang, a girl that he detests.

Both hate each other and while Ichijou is a guy with a positive outlook in life, when he meets Chitoge Kirisaki, she is abrasive, cold and not good at holding her aggression as she is constantly beating up on Ichijou.

And to make things worse for Ichijou, the most popular girl that he always liked, Kosaki Onodera, is in fact the girl that has (or may have) the key, to his lock that he has worn on his neck and promised to marry.  Add in Marika Tachibana and even Chitoge’s bodyguard, all of them start to fall for Ichijo…but can he pick which one he really likes?

So far, I really enjoy this anime series, especially the episodes on this third Blu-ray release because it’s fresh take on the young promise made by youngsters to marry each other and it also has that similarity to “Ranma 1/2″ of two people arranged by their parents to be together, although not to be married but to have this fake romance for three years. And then having multiple young ladies vying for his attention.

As for the Blu-ray release, the anime series is presented in 1080p and is absolutely vibrant! Lossless soundtrack is in Japanese Linear PCM and there are no English dub soundtrack, but I can see this series receiving an English dub treatment in the future!

While there are no additional special features aside from the usual Opening and Textless endings, you do get Aniplex swag with a slipcase and collectable pin-ups.

Overall, “Nisekoi: False Love” is an enjoyable, humorous and crazy anime series and with this latest volume, you get a few episodes focusing on the Onodera sisters, especially the introduction of Kosaki’s younger sister Haru.  But how will Haru behave when she meets the guy that her sister likes…Ichijo?

If you love romantic comedies, “Nisekoi: False Love” is an enjoyable, fun anime series which I can easily recommend!

 

The Empire of Corpses (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

empireofcorpses

M”The Empire of Corpses” is an an animated film that is complex, smartly written, featuring wonderful animation and art backgrounds but while entertaining, the film may prove to be too complex for some viewers and thus may require multiple viewings in order to grasp the storyline. But if you are looking for a beautiful and smartly written animated film, “The Empire of Corpses” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Empire of Corpses

DURATION: 120 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: July 5, 2016


Directed by Ryoutarou Makihara

Screenplay by Hiroshi Seko, Koji Yamamoto, Midori Gotou

Original Creator: Project Itoh, Toh Enjoe

Original Character Design: redjuice

Character Designs by Takaaki Chiba

Chief Animation Director: Hirotaka Kato, Takaaki Chiba

Mechanical Design by Gorou Murata, Hitoshi Fukuchi, Junjya IShigaki, Shinobu Tsuneki

Art Direction by Yusuke Takeda

Music by Yoshihiro Ike

Anime Production: Wit Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayumu Murase/Todd Haberkorn as Friday/Noble_Savage_007

Kana Hanazawa/Morgan Garrett as Hadaly Lilith

Taiten Kusunoki/J. Michael Tatum as Frederick Barnaby

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Jason Liebrecht as John H. Watson

Akio Ohtsuka/Sean Hennigan as M

Daiki Yamashita/Micah Solusod as Nikolai Krasotkin

Shinichiro Miki/Mike McFarland as Alexei Karamazov

Houko Kuwashima/Caitlin Glass as Moneypenny


From the studio that produced Attack on Titan comes The Empire of Corpses, a captivating historical action thriller based on a Phillip K. Dick Award winning novel by Project Itoh. In an alternate version of 19th century London, the world has been revolutionized by “corpse reanimation technology” creating armies of undead who serve the living as laborers across the globe.

In an attempt to revive his dearly departed friend, young medical student John Watson becomes obsessed with replicating the work of Dr. Victor Frankenstein – the legendary corpse engineer whose research produced the only re-animated corpse to possess a soul. But when his illegal experiments put him at odds with the British government, Watson is drafted into a worldwide race to find the lost research notes of Victor Frankenstein before the secrets of the human soul fall into the wrong hands.


From anime production studio Wit Studio and director Ryoutarou Makihara (“Hal”, “Umi Monogatari”) comes “The Empire of Corpses” (Shisha no Teikoku).

An animated film adaptation of Project Itoh (creator of “Harmony and “Genocidal Organ”) and Toh Enjoe’s novel, the film was released in Japan in 2015 and had a limited theatrical release in the US courtesy of FUNimation.

And now, the animated film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

The film features a screenplay by Hiroshi Seko (“Ajin”, “Mob PSycho 100”, “Seraph of the End”), Koji Yamamoto (“Harmony”) and Midori Gotou (“Attack on Titan: Junior high”, “Hozuki no Reitetsu”, “Loups=Garous – The Motion Picture”, music by Yoshihiro Ike (“Gundam Evolve”, “Rage of Bahamut”, “Cobra the Animation”, “Blood: The Last Vampire”), character designs by Takaaki Chiba (“Sengoku Basara”, “Attack on Titan”) and art direction by Yusuke Takeda (“Armitage III”, “009-1”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” and “Eden of the East”).

The film is set in an alternative future of 18th Century England during a time where English scientist Victor Frankenstein has created “The One” (Frankenstein) which revolves reanimating a corpse with a soul in order to think, feel and speak.

But after his creation was destroyed, another method to replace a missing soul was developed and is known as “Necroware”, which can be programmed and upgraded but unlike “The One”, it has no ability to think, feel or speak.  It follows commands.

The world has brought many corpses alive in order to use them as servants which has boosted the economy as they can be used as workers but also by the military, who can use corpse technology for military use.

The film introduces us to John H. Watson, a corpse engineer who has illegally created his own Necroware and has resurrected his deceased friend, who he names it Friday.

Watson is visited by two mysterious individuals and one of them, M, is a member of the British Secret Service and has information that Watson was experimenting with illegal Necroware.  So, he tells John that he can either go to prison or become an agent of the British Empire.  John Watson decides to join the British Empire.

Their first mission is to go to India and follow U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant but they are immediately attacked by corpse assassins who have a grenade embedded inside them and when they pull a pin from their neck, they can explode.

Fortunately for both Watson and Friday, they are rescued by Captain Frederick Burnaby and Watson receives his mission from M that he must find Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov, a Russian corpse engineer who stole “The Memorandum”, the research material belonging to Victor Frankenstein on how to reanimate a corpse with a soul.

But as the three who are joined by Ulysses S. Grant’s secretary Hadaly Lilith and their guide Nikolai Krasotkin, are chased and are targeted by corpse assassins, these assassins have the ability to move differently than a regular corpse.  They are quick and also surprise Watson by showing the ability to possibly talk.

But what happens when they come across Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov and learn more about “The Memorandum” and why is John Watson so interested in it?


VIDEO:

“The Empire of Corpses” is presented in 1080p High Definiton (16:9 anamorphic widescreen). The animation features wonderful character design and gorgeous art backgrounds.

I was struck by how detailed the background art was. How beautiful these painted backgrounds looked and how it complimented the characters.   Overall, picture quality was fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Empire of Corpses” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. As for the lossless audio, both Japanese and English soundtrack feature crystal clear dialogue and music. Action sequences (such as the fights with the zombie corpses, explosions galore, people screaming and the sounds of the live corpses) utilized the surround channels very well and the voice acting for both soundtracks are fantastic.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Empire of Corpses” contains the following special features:

  • Funimation Short Empire of Corpses – (7:38) Featuring director/writer J. Michael Tatum (voice of Alexei Karamazov) and Mike McFarland (voice of Frederick Burnaby), Morgan Garrett (voice of Hadaly Lilith) and Jason Liebrecht (voice of Dr. John Watson) discussing working on “The Empire of Corpses”.
  • Promo Videos – Featuring two Japanese promo videos
  • Original Trailer – The original theatrical trailer

EXTRAS:

“The Empire of Corpses” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs of the film. The Blu-ray also comes with an UltraViolet code for those wanting to watch the film on their PC/Mac, tablet or cell phone via Digital HD.


What happens when you take an alternative version of England, throw in zombie corpses that are revived and used by society to better the economy.  No more having to worry about how long one can work, these corpses can work 24/7 and follow their master’s request.

These corpses have feel no pain, can’t speak nor do they have a soul to share any emotion towards anyone.

But one corpse was given a soul and that was the creation made by Victor Frankenstein but that creation ended up being destroyed.  So, now we have John Watson trying to follow the footsteps of Frankenstein by digging up and turning his best friend into a living corpse and naming him Friday.

Unfortunately for Watson, he is caught and is given a choice…work for the British government or go to prison.  And of course, Watson chooses to become an agent for the government and try to find a Russian scientist who has obtained documents of the work of Victor Frankenstein.

But what Watson, Friday and the others are not aware of, someone has created a new type of corpse. Faster, humanlike movement and they appear to be wanting to speak.

And as Watson and others try to look for these documents known as “The Memorandum”, their research starts to uncover who is the real culprit pulling the strings of these frightening occurrences.

“The Empire of Corpses” is a complex animated film with so many twists and turns that one probably will find themselves watching multiple times, to see if they have missed anything important.

The film manages to capture the essence of zombies, combined with Frankenstein, showcasing an alternate universe of a world dependent on corpses and what happens when these controlled corpses are being utilized as weapons and possibly used for nefarious situations.

The Blu-ray release features wonderful picture quality as character designs are well-done, the art backgrounds are highly detailed and done magnificently well.  As for special features, you do get a short featurette, promotional videos and a trailer.  And you also get a digital HD code.

Overall, “The Empire of Corpses” is an an animated film that is complex, smartly written, featuring wonderful animation and art backgrounds but while entertaining, the film may prove to be too complex for some viewers and thus may require multiple viewings in order to grasp the storyline.

But if you are looking for a beautiful and smartly written animated film, “The Empire of Corpses” is recommended!

 

Nisekoi: False Love – Second Season, Volume 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

nisekoi-s2-v1

“Nisekoi: False Love” is an enjoyable, humorous and crazy anime series and with this latest volume, you get a few emotional episodes with Chitoge trying to capture the attention of the mother she never gets to see but also a lot of fun episodes including a Valentine’s Day episode. If you love romantic comedies, “Nisekoi: False Love” is an anime series which I can easily recommend!

Image courtesy of © Naoshi Komi/SHUEISHA, SHAFT, MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Nisekoi: False Love: Season 2, Volume 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 21-26 (Season 2: Episodes 1-6) (144 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: June 21, 2016


Originally created by Naoshi Komi

Chief Director: Akiyuki Simbo

Director: Naoyuki Tatsuwa

Script by Akiyuki Simbo, Fuyashi Tou

Character Design by Nobuhiro Sugiyama

Art Director: Ken Naito

Anime Production: SHAFT


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kana Hanazawa as Kosaki Onodera

Kouki Uchiyama as Raku Ichijō

Nao Tōyama as Chitoge Kirisaki

Kana Asumi as Marika Tachibana

Mikako Komatsu as Seishirō Tsugumi

Takehito Koyasu as Claude

Yumi Uchiyama as Ruri Miyamoto

Yuuki Kaji as Shū Maiko


10 years ago, Raku made a secret promise with a girl he met that they would “get married when they reunite.” Since then, he never let go of the pendant she gave him…

In order to put an end to the war between the yakuza clan Shuei-gumi and the Beehive Gang, Raku Ichijo and Chitoge Kirisaki must fake being boyfriend and girlfriend. At first, they clashed frequently, but little by little, they came to understand each other.

One day, Chitoge finally realizes that what she’s feeling towards Raku is, in fact, love. What will become of their “Fake Love” relationship now? Find out in Nisekoi 2 Volume 1!


Chitoge is starting to have feelings towards Raku, but is not sure how he can get him to pay attention to her even more.  Meanwhile, Seishirou Tsugumi’s rival, “Black Tiger” has come to challenge her and Chitoge’s mother, Hana is coming to visit her.  But why is Chitoge so terrified?

Meanwhile, it’s the beginning of the New Year and the girls try to win Raku’s affection.  But when Valentine’s Day is around the corner, how will Chitoge Kirisaki, Kosaki Onodera, Marika Tachibana and Seishiro Tsugumi win Raku’s heart?

It’s the start of a new second season for “Nisekoi: False Love″ available now on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Nisekoi: False Love”?

Naoshi Komi’s manga work is well-known for readers of “Weekly Shonen Jump”.

From “Koi no Kami-sama”, “Williams” and “Double Arts”, Komi’s manga “Nisekoi” (False Love) was created as a one shot for Jump NEXT! in 2011 but then receiving the go-ahead as a weekly manga serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”. It was also one of the first manga to receive an English translation online courtesy of Shueisha and also received a 20-episode anime series which aired on Tokyo MX and a second season in 2015 featuring 12 episodes and an OVA.

The anime series produced by SHAFT and was directed by Naoyuki Tatsuwa (“Katteni Kazo”, “Kofuku Graffiti”), series composition by Akiyuki Simbo (“Hidamari Sketch”, Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko”, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”) and Fuyashi Tou (“Bakemonogatari”, “Hanamonogatari”, “Tsukimonogatari”), character design by Nobuhiro Sugiyama (“Puella Magi Madoka”, “ef: a tale of memories”, “Arakawa Under the Bridge”) and art direction by Ken Naito (“Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Hanamonogatari”, “Koufuki Graffiti”, “CODE-E”).

“Nisekoi: False Love” revolves around high school Raku Ichijou. When Ichijou was a kid, he met a girl and he kept a lock, she kept the key and promised each other to get married if they one day find each other.

Since then, Ichijou has kept his promise and has worn the lock around his neck and has been hoping to meet her again.

But Ichijou’s life is a little complicated. While a good-natured individual, unfortunately for him, he is the son of the leader of the Shuei-gumi yakuza syndicate. He has no interested in become part of the yakuza but everyone expects him to be the next one to lead the syndicate in the future.

Meanwhile, while going to school, he sees a foreign girl jumping from a wall and landing on him. He loses the lock on his neck and is very upset of what had transpired. Next thing you know in class, that same girl becomes a new student in his class.

Chitoge Kirisaki just moved from the U.S. to Japan and since her mom is Japanese and her dad is America, she is fluent in both Japanese and English. And suffice to say, when both Ichijou and Kirisaki see each other, they start yelling at each other and she nails him with a hit after he calls her “monkey girl”. People see how tough she is but to make them get along, his teacher puts Ichijou in charge of showing her around school.

He tries his best but the two are like oil and water, they just don’t get along. For the next week of trying to assist her, the two end up arguing and getting in each other’s faces.

If anything, Ichijou focus is more on finding the lock that was lost when Kirisaki landed on him. And he wonders if Kosaki Onodera, the popular girl in school and a person who has treated him with nothing but kindness is the girl that he made the promise with. He hopes it is her.

But just when Ichijou is about to give up, Onodera pleads with him to keep his promise and Ichijou is reminded that a promise is a promise and he intends to keep it. But wants to ask Onodera if there is any chance she may be the girl he made the promise too.

What he doesn’t know is that Onodera does have a key and she has always liked Ichijou but doesn’t have the guts to tell him.

But as Ichijou wonders if Onodera is the girl he made a promise too and excited for the possibility that it might be, when he gets home, his father talks to him about something important.

The problem is that the Shuei-gumi and the rival Beehive Gang are in the brink of all-out war that would damage both yakuza gangs, he and the other leader have come up with the plan. Ichijou must pretend to be dating the daughter of the leader of the Beehive Gang.

Ichijou doesn’t want to get involved and his father told him that he must forget dating any other girl and focus liking this girl they set him up with.

When the two are introduces, Ichijou is shocked that the girl is Chitoge Kirisaki. And for both of them, they must promise to be boyfriend and girlfriend for three whole years and be convincing to both yakuza gangs that they are truly in love.

Both don’t want to be involved with each other but they have no choice. But now they must find a way to co-exist with each other as both yakuza gangs are suspicious of their relationship especially Kirisaki’s guardian, Claude.

Meanwhile, Ichijou still wants to ask Onodera if she is the girl with the key and Onodera is about to let him know that she is. But before they can, the whole school are told that both Ichijo and Kirasaki are boyfriend and girlfriend.

And now it has made things tough for both Ichijou and Kirisaki, but can they keep this charade of being in love with each other, especially if they despite one another?

For the start of the second season, Chitoge wants Raku to pay more attention to her.  But what can she do to make him pay attention to her?

Meanwhile, out of the blue, Tsugumi’s rival “Black Tiger” has come to challenge her and the winner gets to kiss Raku!

And the key story revolves around Tsugumi’s mother Hana, a workaholic business woman that only visits Chitoge during Christmas.  Feared by many, she is in need of an assistant and chooses Raku to be her assistant.

Meanwhile, Raku is determined in getting Hana to recognize Chitoge even more.

Also, when Valentine’s Day comes along, if chocolate is a way to show one’s love during Valentine’s Day, how will Chitoge, Kosaki, Marika and Seishiro win Raku’s heart?


The main characters of “Nisekoi: False Love″ are:

  • Raku Ichijou – While a good-natured individual, unfortunately for him, he is the son of the leader of the Shuei-gumi yakuza syndicate. He has no interested in become part of the yakuza but everyone expects him to be the next one to lead the syndicate in the future. He is forced to pretend he is in a relationship with Chitoge Kirisaki in order to prevent a gang war. He sees Chitoge to be rude and cold, and he has always liked Kosaki Onodera. Raku wears a lock on his necklace and made a promise to marry the person who has the key to open the lock.
  • Chitoge Kirisaki – Chitoge just moved from the U.S. to Japan and since her mom is Japanese and her dad is America, she is fluent in both Japanese and English. She has blonde hair and her father is the leader of a rival gang. She must pretend to be in a relationship with Raku Ichijo in order to prevent a gang war. She is not refined as is often beating or saying something cold to Raku.
  • Kosaki Onodera – Raku’s classmate and the girl he has always liked. He doesn’t know that Kosaki has always liked him and happens to have a key that may open the lock that Raku has. She is very shy and it not a good cook.
  • Ruri Miyamoto – Onodera’s best friend who is doing all she can to help her gain the courage to tell Raku how she feels.
  • Seishiro Tsugumi – Known as “The Black Tiger”, a hitwoman raised and trained by Claude. While a tomboy, she starts to develop feelings towards Raku.
  • Marika Tachibana – Another girl from Raku’s past. She had loved Raku as a child and went as far as changed herself to the way he asked her to. Also, Raku’s father neglected to tell him that he made an agreement with the Police Comissioner (Marika’s father) that they were engaged in order to build relationship between the gang and the police. Unlike the other girls who are shy to show their feelings towards Raku, Marika is more upfront about her feelings and her actions.
  • Claude – The assistant to Chitoge’s father. He doesn’t believe that Raku and Chitoge is in a relationship and will do anything to find out the truth.

VIDEO:

“Nisekoi: False Love” 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!

SHAFT did a wonderful job on the animation and the series definitely compliments Naoshi Komi’s manga series!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Nisekoi: False Love” is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series. The voice acting by Kana Hanazawa, Kouki Uchiyama and Nao Toyama are well-done!

It’s important to emphasize to those interested in this series on Blu-ray that there are no English dubbed soundtrack included.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Nisekoi: False Love – Season Two, Volume 1″ comes with the Textless Opening for “Rally Go Round”, Textless Ending for “Aimai Hertz”, Textless Ending for “TrIGgER”, Textless Ending for “Sleep zzz…” and Textless Ending for “Matador Love”

EXTRAS:

“Nisekoi: False Love – Season Two, Volume 1″ comes with a slipcase and eight collectable cards.


With the latest volume of “Nisekoi: False Love”, it has been an interesting journey so far as we have seen a number of girls fall for Raku and of course, him being oblivious to what is happening.

W see Chitoge trying to get Raku to recognize her, Tsugumi’s rival challenging her for a chance to kiss Raku, Ruri trying to tell Raku that Onodera has always loved him but possibly one of the most touching and interesting chapters to read is the introduction to Chitoge’s mother, Hana.

If you thought Chitoge was tough, she is nothing like Hana, beautiful but cold, feared by many but yet independent and successful.  But she is a workaholic to the point that she is never there for Chitoge and the only passing conversation is short.

But when Raku is forced to become Hana’s assistant, Raku sees it as an opportunity to bring mother and daughter closer.  But can he?

Also, with Valentine’s Day being a special day for one to show how much they care for someone, to what great extremes would each go in order to present Raku with a chocolate?

Sure, there have been many anime series that have tapped into the story of a promise made in childhood of marriage from “Love Hina” to “Ore no Kanojo to Osanajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru” (better known as “Oreshura”).

But what “Nisekoi” does differently is throw a major wrench into this possible love romance by putting the male protagonist in search of his future wife, to fulfill a family promise to have a relationship with the daughter of a rival gang, a girl that he detests.

Both hate each other and while Ichijou is a guy with a positive outlook in life, when he meets Chitoge Kirisaki, she is abrasive, cold and not good at holding her aggression as she is constantly beating up on Ichijou.

And to make things worse for Ichijou, the most popular girl that he always liked, Kosaki Onodera, is in fact the girl that has (or may have) the key, to his lock that he has worn on his neck and promised to marry.

So far, I really enjoy this anime series, especially the episodes on this third Blu-ray release because it’s fresh take on the young promise made by youngsters to marry each other and it also has that similarity to “Ranma 1/2″ of two people arranged by their parents to be together, although not to be married but to have this fake romance for three years. And then having multiple young ladies vying for his attention.

As for the Blu-ray release, the anime series is presented in 1080p and is absolutely vibrant! Lossless soundtrack is in Japanese Linear PCM and there are no English dub soundtrack, but I can see this series receiving an English dub treatment in the future!

While there are no additional special features aside from the usual Opening and Textless endings, you do get Aniplex swag with a slipcase and collectable ending card pin-ups.

Overall, “Nisekoi: False Love” is an enjoyable, humorous and crazy anime series and with this latest volume, you get a few emotional episodes with Chitoge trying to capture the attention of the mother she never gets to see but also a lot of fun episodes including a Valentine’s Day episode.

If you love romantic comedies, “Nisekoi: False Love” is an anime series which I can easily recommend!

 

The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

irregular-3

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” Blu-ray release features an action-packed conclusion to the first season and the mystery revolving around Tatsuya and Miyuki are finally revealed. Action-packed and full of excitement, “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Tsutomu Sato. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance

DURATION: Episodes 19-26 (200 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and up

Release Date: December 8, 2015


Original Creator: Tsutomu Satou

Original Character Design by Kana Ishida

Director: Manabu Ono

Script by Yukie Sugawara

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design: Kana Ishida

Art Director: Rie Ota

Director of Photography: Yuuki Kawashita

Anime Production: MADHOUSE


Featuring the following voice talent:

Saori Hayami as Miyuki Shiba

Yūichi Nakamura as Tatsuya Shiba

Atsushi Tamaru as Mikihiko Yoshida

Ayumu Murase as Shinkurō Kichōji

Chiwa Saito as Maya Yotsuba

Haruka Tomatsu as Sayaka Mibu

Junichi Suwabe as Katsuto Jūmonji

Kana Hanazawa as Mayumi Saegusa

Koji Yusa as Zhou Gongjin

Mai Nakahara as Suzune Ichihara

Marina Inoue as Mari Watanabe

Ryohei Kimura as Hanzō Hattorigyōbushōjō

Saki Ogasawara as Azusa Nakajō

Sakura Tange as Haruka Ono

Saori Ōnishi as Kanon Chiyoda

Satomi Satou as Mizuki Shibata

Sōma Saitō as Kei Isori

Sora Amamiya as Honoka Mitsui

Takuma Terashima as Leonhart Saijo

Tomokazu Sugita as Takeaki Kirihara

Toru Ohkawa as Harunobu Kazama

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Masaki Ichijō

Yuiko Tatsumi as Shizuku Kitayama

Yumi Uchiyama as Erika Chiba


The season turns from summer to fall. This is also the time for students to prepare for the “National High School Magic Thesis Competition,” a.k.a. “Thesis Competition.” At this nationwide competition, students representing each of the nine magic schools in the country present their research on topics ranging from magic theory to magic engineering. If the Nine Schools Competition was meant to assess the students’ “physical” capabilities, the Thesis Competition evaluates their “mental” proficiency.

Even though he is a Course 2 student and only a first-year, Tatsuya is appointed to represent his school along with his group members to present their thesis on “the technical feasibility of a Gravity Control-type Thermonuclear Fusion Reactor.” At the same time, Tatsuya is approached by his stepmother, Sayuri Shiba, to help analyze a “Relic.”

Meanwhile, in Yokohama, where this year’s Thesis Competition was scheduled to take place, local authorities investigate a series of unlawful entries into the country and work to keep the situation under control. This, however, is only the beginning of a greater conflict that would soon involve the students at the Thesis Competition…


With “Yokahama Disturbance” (episodes 19-26) kicking off a new story arc for Tatsuya and Miyuki, this time the schools will compete in a “Magical Thesis Competition”.

But their step mother enlists Tatsuya for his help in finding a mysterious and elusive relic that can change the history of magic, but another group is trying to steal it.

Find out what happens in the latest arc for “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

What is “The irregular at magic high school” about?

In 2011, Tsutomu Sato and illustrator Kana Ishida created the Japanese light novel “Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” (The irregular at magic high school).

Since then, 16 novels have been published via ASCII Media Works including five manga adaptations by Ascii Media Works and Square Enix. Including two video games and a 26-episode animated series in 2014.

The animated series was released in the United States courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first Blu-ray volume featuring the first seven episodes.

“The irregular at magic high school” is set during a time where magic has been utilized as technology for nearly a century. Those who are gifted with magical abilities can cast spells using a CAD (Casting Assistant Device) and is infused with psions, a substanceless particle and psychic phenomenon.

In the year 2095, Tatsuya Shiba and his younger sister Miyuki Shiba are enrolled at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School, where students are ranked according to their test scores. Those who rank higher in practical magic ability are put on priority and are enrolled in course 1, while those with lower practical magic test scores are enrolled in course 2.

While Tatsuya scored the highest in written/theoretical portion of the exam, he scored poorly in practical magic, so he is in course 2, while Miyuki is in course 1 because of her high scores, and also selected to be the first year representative because of her high ranking score on the exam.

Miyuki is overprotective of her brother and has a little crush on him as well. So, it hurts her when she sees him being picked on because he is in Course 2 (the Course 1 students look at Course 2 students as “weeds”).

But because Tatsuya undergoes shinobi training, his fighting skills are top-notched.

At school, the two befriend Course 2’s Erika Chiba (the youngest daughter of the Chiba Family, known for their swordsmanship), Course 2’s Mizuki Shibata (has the ability to see Spirit Particle emissions) and Course 2’s Leonhard Saijo (his grandfather was a German Fortress Series magician).

One day, Tatsuya and his friends are bullied by Course 1 students and despite Miyuki being angered by her classmates, Tatsuya tries to calm her down and take in the bullying. But when one challenges Tatsuya to a fight, his skills catch the attention of the Student Council and Public Morals Committee because of his ability to read activation sequences in real time.

Tatsuya becomes the first Course 2 student to be nominated in the Public Morals committee (also to help diffuse the prejudice against Course 2 students).

As a representative of the Public Morals Committee at the high school, Tatsuya must now enforce the law in school, meanwhile having to deal with Course 1 students prejudice towards Course 2 students.

With the third arc titled “Yokohama Disturbance”, a few of the students of Private Magic University Affiliated High School will be taking part in another important event known as the “Magic Thesis Competition” and the students must produce an applicable material before their deadline.

But as Tatsuya is enlisted by his step mother to replicate a relic that can change magic history, other adversaries are trying to steal it.


VIDEO:

“The irregular at magic high school” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Madhouse has done a wonderful job with this animated TV series. Where a lot of TV series don’t get the special treatment of excessive background art or attention to detail (due to deadlines and budget), it’s evident that a lot of time is put into the creation of “The irregular at magic high school”.

Characters are well-shaded with attention to detail on the characters faces, clothing but the background art is heavily detailed.

The color palette is vibrant, I saw no major banding issues or artifacts. If anything, “The irregular at magic high school” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

While I wish that the lossless audio for “The irregular at magic high school”, like most TV series released in Japan, they are presented in stereo and the same can be said for the lossless audio on the Blu-ray release. The lossless audio is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo but dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels. Although for those with receivers that can pump out audio on all channels, then you should be fine with that if you want something a bit more immersive. It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs on this Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Ending 2, Ver. 1 and Ver. 2
  • Get to Know Magic Studies! #06-#07 – Featuring SD versions of the characters in three minute segments (typically shown after an episode in Japan).

EXTRAS:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” comes with a Blu-ray slipcase, three collectible pin-ups illustrated by Kana Ishida (character designer) and a special 20-page booklet with episode synopsis and more.


In my previous reviews of “The irregular at magic high school”, I feel that I have complimented the series when it comes to visual design and storytelling.

From the anime series beginnings of featuring Tatsuya as a mystery underdog in a high school that looked down upon him, because he was not in the top class, part of the enjoyment was seeing him grow as a student but also proving others wrong with his mysterious abilities.

Volume 3 of “The irregular at magic high school” finally features the truth about Tatsuya Shiba and also the importance of Miyuki Shiba during a tough time as the students are attacked by armed assailants.

While previous arcs have been action-packed, “Yokohama Disturbance” becomes more serious and deadly and even various characters get injured severely at some point.

For those who love the action of the series, you won’t be disappointed by these final episodes of the series.  Featuring many of the characters working together to defeat their adversaries, it’s no doubt an action-packed arc.

Meanwhile, for those who enjoyed the more school-driven, underdog Tatsuya storyline, the series has gone beyond that and has identified Tatsuya as anything but an underdog.

And you can see a bit of Tatsuya’s power unleashed in the final episodes.

But with how the series ends overall, the question is how will the series continue and will it continue to follow the light novel series.  Time will tell.

As for the Blu-ray release, I love the fact that MADHOUSE went all out in giving a vibrant, colorful presentation for this TV series. Most TV series don’t receive this much love, but the studio went all out in making sure the background art, structures and character design were done very well.

Lossless audio is Linear PCM Stereo and the voice acting is fantastic. It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release does not include English dubs.

As usual with Aniplex product Blu-ray set releases, you can expect swag and in this case, you get a special booklet and collectible pin-up cards.

Overall, “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” Blu-ray release features an action-packed conclusion to the first season and the mystery revolving around Tatsuya and Miyuki are finally revealed.

Action-packed and full of excitement, “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray review)

November 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

wannabe

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s:” is a mature anime series for those who love wrestling, idol groups and fan service galore.  But while the series is no doubt targeted for men who love sexy fan service, the story of an idol-turned-wrestler was quite enjoyable and made the anime series worth watching.

Image courtesy of © ESE/Project SekaiTsuyo Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: 12 Episodes (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATING: TV MA

Release Date: June 2, 2015


Originally Created by ESE

Directed by Rion Kujo

Series Composition by Kazuho Hyodo

Music by Kayo Konishi, Yukio Kondoo

Character Design by Rin-Sin

Art Director: Minoru Maeda

Anime Production: ARMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayana Taketatsu/Elizabeth Lewis as Sakura Hagiwara

Kana Asumi/Monica Rial as Elena Miyazawa

Chiaki Takahashi/Lydia Mackay as Jackal Tōjō

Eri Kitamura/Vanessa DeSilvio as Makoto Kirishima

Haruka Tomatsu/Martha Harms as Rio Kazama

Hisako Kanemoto/Cristina Vee as Moe Fukuoka

Kana Hanazawa/Megan Shipman as Juri Sanada

Kyōko Narumi/Leah Clark as Misaki Toyoda

Miku Itō/Didi Duron as Yūho Mochizuki

Rina Satou/Bryn Apprill as Kanae Fujishita

Sora Amamiya/Kristin Sutton as Aika Hayase

Sora Tokui/Elizabeth Evans as Hornet

Sumire Uesaka/Morgan Garrett as Kurea Komiyama

Suzuko Mimori/Anastasia Munoz as Chinatsu Suzumoto

Yuka Ōtsubo/Michelle Lee as Nanami Kanno

Ayahi Takagaki/Heather Walker as Yunbo Yamamoto

Fumihiko Tachiki/David Thompson as Seiichi Inoba

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Greg Ayres as Chairman (Sakura Hagiwara Fan Club President)

Yoshiko/Alex Moore as Yoshiko


The eye-popping world of women’s professional wrestling is sweaty, sadistic, and savagely sexy. Famous Japanese pop idol Sakura Hagiwara is better suited for the dance floor than the wrestling ring, but this ravishing songstress is about to put her body to the ultimate test.

When she and fellow idol Elena are assigned to pose as wrestlers for a very special show, a vicious lady brawler by the name of Rio decides to teach the girls a lesson they won’t soon forget. Rio unleashes a flurry of ferocious of attacks on Elena, contorting her divine female form into an array of very naughty positions. Shocked by the blush-inducing beating taken by her friend, Sakura vows to get her heavenly curves ready to rumble and redeem the good name of idols everywhere by becoming a bona fide diva of the pro-wrestling world!


Back in 2013, the anime adaptation of “Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!” produced by ARMS Corporation and directed by Rion Kujo (“Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero”, “Love Doll”) and a screnplay by Kazuho Kyodo (“Mobile Suit Gundam AGE”, “Robot Girls”, “Bakegyamon”) aired on television.

Based on the manga series by ESE and Kiyohito Natsuki, the series was released on Blu-ray + DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

Sakura Hagiwara is the leader and center of the idol group, Sweet Diva.

Having won the center position four straight times, Sakura’s friend and teammate Elena Miyazawa has always been inspired to work harder to someday become center.

As the group becomes popular, the group has received a request to participate in a TV special in which the idols take part in a wrestling match.  Sakura enlists herself, which Elena follows.

But as Sakura and Elena head to Berserk Gym, they begin their training and are insulted by wrestler Rio Kazama who tells them that idols should not be in the ring as they are not atheletes.  As Elena takes on Rio, Rio easily beats on Elena, prompting Sakura to challenge Rio in a wrestling match for the TV special.  The loser will get their hair cut off.

As Sakura and Rio get into the televised wrestling match, she is instantly defeated, humiliated and her long hair is cut.

Disappointed and embarrassed by her loss, she and Sweet Diva are further shamed by Rio.  Upset, Sakura issues Rio another challenge for a rematch and will train to be as a wrestler in order to take on Rio in their rematch.  This leaves Elena being the temporary leader/center of Sweet Diva.

As idol singer Sakura prepares her training for pro wrestling, she must overcome all the pain and train with all her might in order to prepare for her rematch.


 

VIDEO:

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The animation focuses on closeups and most of the frames are primarily of fan service quality or in relation to wrestling.  Character designs are good, shading is well-done.  Background art is primarily not utilized as much as they are just solid walls and basic paint jobs, most of the focus by ARMS is Sakura or her rival’s facial expressions during a wrestling match or often showcasing their boobs or crotch area.

Overall, picture quality is vibrant, colorful and saw no major banding or artifact problems during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Voice acting for both Japanese and English are done very well.  The series pretty much lies on the shoulder of Ayana Taketatsu and Elizabeth Lewis’ shoulders as the character Sakura Hagiwara is put into grueling training sessions and the voice actresses have to showcase their character in intense pain and varying emotional high and lows.

The series is primarily dialogue and music driven but there is good use of ambiance for the audience in the wrestling hall.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” Blu-ray also comes with the following:

  • Episode 01 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Elizabeth Lewis and Martha Harms and also featuring comments from other voice actresses participating on a “FUNimation Fight Night – Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! Round 1”.
  • Episode 07 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Leah Clark and Lydia Mackay and also featuring comments from other voice actresses participating on a”FUNimation Fight Night – Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! Round 2″.
  • OVA’s – (23:59)Featuring six mature-themed OVA’s.
  • Textless Opening Song “Beautiful Dreamer”
  • Textless Closing Song “Fan Fanfare!!!”
  • U.S. Trailer

EXTRAS:

Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” come with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


Back when I was just starting off in college, myself and a group of friends would watch GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling).

The wrestling focused on sexy female wrestlers who looked different than the female wrestler shown on other wrestling shows.  And as they engaged in wrestling and suffice to say, for college kids, we were captivated each weekend.  Suffice to say GLOW, found a way to captivate an audience by combining sex and wrestling.

A lot has changed since then, as the WWE has been focusing on sexy wrestlers but also honing on those with wrestling talent and audiences are still captivated.

Meanwhile, in Japan, variety shows experiment with having popular idols take on pro female wrestlers and interject a mix of comedy, these specials tend to be a big hit among viewers.

Watching the anime series “Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!”, which is an adaptation of ESE’s manga series, he had no doubt has found a way to bring the sexy and wrestling and make a mature series.

The concept is popular in Japan as mentioned, bring popular idols who wrestle against a professional female wrestler or two.  But most of the time, they are staged and we actually see the idol on television performing several moves.  But “Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!” takes the story into another direction with the idols trying to prove they can take whatever pro female wrestlers can dish.

And sure enough, the idols get their butts kicked.  But for Sweet Diva team leader Sakura Hagiwara, having always been the darling of the media and leader/center of Sweet Diva, she had been accustomed to winning, not losing.  And now, having felt the embarrassment and shame brought by female wrestler Rio, Sakura announces that she will take a break from being an idol to train as a wrestler until she can beat Rio in their rematch.

And of course, the road to training for Sakura is not going to be easy, as the wrestlers will not give her any special favors.  If she’s wanting to be a wrestler, then she’s going to have to deal with all the pain and misery, until she can finally wrestle and take care of herself.

Meanwhile, #2 member of Sweet Diva, Elena, is distraught because she is thrust to the leadership position, when she has depended so much on Sakura for guidance but also inspiration as her rival.

The anime series, while very good (if you enjoy pro wrestling and Japanese idol groups), is mature.  There is a lot of nudity and of course, the usual fan service of Sweet Diva girls wanting to feel up on Sakura because she is well-endowed or the numerous closeups focused on a wrestler’s breast or crotch throughout a matchup.

But for those who love fan service, will no doubt get a lot of it in this series and even moreso in the included short OVA’s.

Picture quality is quite vibrant and I saw problems with artifacts or banding.  The lossless audio is dialogue and musically-driven but I have to say that the voice acting on both the English and Japanese soundtracks were fantastic.  Both Ayana Taketatsu and Elizabeth Lewis do a phenomenal job playing the main protagonist role of Sakura.

The two audio commentaries were far out as the English dub female voice actresses discuss a real fight that took place in their life involving them and some of the stories were quite wild and crazy.

And as mentioned, you get the six short OVA’s and even more nudity is featured.

Overall, “Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s:” is a mature anime series for those who love wrestling, idol groups and fan service galore.  But while the series is no doubt targeted for men who love sexy fan service, the story of an idol-turned-wrestler was quite enjoyable and made the anime series worth watching.

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