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Resident Evil: Vendetta (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

July 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a fan of the “Resident Evil” series and loved the video games and the previous two animated films, I can easily say that “Resident Evil: Vendetta” is the best animated film of the three so far, storywise and also awesome CG to go along with the story.  Definitely an animated film that I recommend for RE fans!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Capcom Co., Ltd. and Resident Evil CG2 Film Partners. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Resident Evil: Vendetta

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 97 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Compatible), Arabic, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish VO, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin America), Swedish, Thai, Turkish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Bloody Violence)

RELEASE DATE: July 18, 2017


Directed by Takanori Tsujimoto

Screenplay by Makoto Fukami

Adaptation/Dialogue: Joe McClean

Producer: Hiroyasu Shinohara

Co-Producer: Kei Miyamoto

Executive Producer: Takashi Shimizu

Supervising Producer: Hiroyuki Kobayashi 

Associate Producer: Kosei Sugimoto

Music by Kenji Kawai

Art Direction by Hiroaki Ueno


Featuring the Voices of:

Kevin Dorman as Chris Redfield

Matthew Mercer as Leon S. Kennedy

Erin Cahill as Rebecca Chambers

John DeMita as Glenn Arias

Fred Tatasciore as Diego Gomez

Cristina Valenzuela as Maria Gomez

Arif S. Kinchen as D.C.

Arnie Pantoja as Damian

Kari Wahlgren as Nadia

Alexander Polinsky as Patricio

Jason Faunt as Arron

Karen Strassman as Kathy White

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Zack White


BSAA Chris Redfield enlists the help of government agent Leon S. Kennedy and Professor Rebecca Chambers from Alexander Institute of Biotechnology to stop a death merchant with a vengeance from spreading a deadly virus in New York.

Directed by Takanori Tsujimoto with a screenplay by Makoto Fukami (Psycho Pass), RESIDENT EVIL: VENDETTA was produced by Hiroyasu Shinohara and executive produced by Takashi Shimizu, with music by Kenji Kawai (Ghost in the Shell).


In 1996, Japanese video game developer and publisher, CAPCOM released its survival horror video game for the Sony Playstation.  Since then, the video game has become one of the best selling titles from the company and many games have been released since then including  six live-action films (with a reboot being developed) and a three animated films.

“Resident Evil: Vendetta” was released in 2017 and is directed by Takanori Tsujimoto and a screenplay by Makoto Fukami.  Taking place between the “Resident Evil 6” and “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” video games, this latest animated film features Chris Redfield, Leon S. Kennedy and Rebecca Chambers.

And now the film will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD.

The film begins with BSAA agent Chris Redfield and his fellow BSAA agents traveling to Mexico to infiltrate a mansion after their undercover source, Cathy White and her son Zack had vanished.

When the group arrives, they are ambushed by zombies and Chris discovers that both Cathy and her son have been infected and have turned to zombies.  Unfortunately, with deadly traps all over the mansion, the agents are killed with Chris being the exception.

Chris comes into contact with the person responsible, Glenn Arias, a death merchant who wants revenge against the U.S. government for killing his family and wife on the day of their wedding.

As the two fight, Glenn defeats Chris and leaves with Cathy (zombie) and his select crew, while Chris vows to get his revenge on Glenn.

The film then shifts to Rebecca Chambers, a former officer in the Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) who worked with Chris as a member of Bravo Team.

Rebecca has since traded her badge and gun to become a scientist working in a university laboratory, using her knowledge of medicine to develop cures for viruses.  But not long after she creates an antidote, zombies have invaded the laboratory and her fellow scientists are killed.

As the zombies go after Rebecca, she is rescued by Chris and Rebecca reveals to him that there are three components to the virus, which is the base virus, the trigger virus and the vaccine.  And because Rebecca administered the antidote on herself, she was not affected when Arias’ assassin, Maria releases the virus in to the laboratory.

Wanting to get back at Glenn, Rebecca joins Chris and team but Chris needs Leon S. Kennedy’s help.  But when they come to visit him, Leon has been drinking a lot, since his team was killed during the incident involving the BSAA source.

Can these three work together in hopes to track down Arias?


VIDEO:

“Resident Evil: Vendetta” is presented in 2160p (1:78:1 aspect ratio) and the visuals show great detail especially when compared to the last animated film “Resident Evil: Damnation”.  The motion capture is fantastic as the expressions and mannerisms of a character are well-captured. But the detail of facial characteristics is remarkable and with the realistic movements, show how far motion-capture has come in a few years. There is a lot of detail that can be seen with the characters, as well as the monstrous beasts. Overall, the CG for “Resident Evil: Vendetta” looks fantastic in 4K Ultra HD!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Audio quality is equally impressive. Presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Compatible), Arabic, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish VO, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Turkish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Considering that this animated film has a solid number of action sequences, the lossless audio utilizes the surround channels. Dialogue and music are crystal clear, while action sequences sound magnificent through the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin America), Swedish, Thai, Turkish

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Resident Evil Vendetta” on 4K Ultra HD comes with the following special featured on two discs:

  • CGI to Reality: The Creature & Designing Vendetta – (24:05) Featuring two featurettes on how the CGI was created .
  • Still Gallery  – Featuring 30 sketches/designs
  • Filmmaker Audio Commentary – Japanese audio commentary with Director Takanor Tsujimoto, Executive Producer Takashi Shimizu and writer Makoto Fukami (English Subtitled)
  • Walk-Around on Set (Motion Picture) with Dante Carver – (11:01) Dante Carver gives a tour to the set in Japan where motion captures and production are taking place.
  • BSAA Mission Briefing: Combat Arias – (5:05) Introduction to the antagonist, Arias and his operatives.
  • Designing the World of Vendetta – (3:31) A featurette on the evolution of “Resident Evil” and designing the world of this latest animated film.
  • 2016 Tokyo Game Show Footage – (13:04) The screening of “Resident Evil: Vendetta” at the Tokyo Game Show.

EXTRAS:

“Resident Evil: Vendetta” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc and a bonus disc.


Since the release of the first “Resident Evil” game for the Sony Playstation back in 1996, I have been a fan of the series purchasing the many games that have been released on various consoles, portable consoles and have also enjoyed the live-action films, despite the differences with the video game series. As well, as enjoying the first two CG films, “Resident Evil: Degeneration” and “Resident Evil: Damnation”, as a fan, you can’t help but feel giddy that Chris Redfield is reuniting with Rebecca Chambers and also joining the two is popular character Leon S. Kennedy.

The storyline continues the terrorizing details of how the virus is being utilized and now, you have the virus in the hands of Glenn Arias, a death merchant who wants nothing but revenge against the US Government for slaughtering his wife-to-be and his entire family during his wedding day.

This time around, we see a Leon S. Kennedy who is distraught and getting drunk after the slaughter of his fellow agents and we see Rebecca Chambers, last seen as a member of S.T.A.R.S. in the first video game and now a scientist developing a cure for the virus.  Having created an antidote which she has used on herself and seems to have worked.  Chris Redfield is always your heroic gung-ho character wanting to kick butt, so his character remains consistent.

But as Arias is getting his revenge, he also wants Rebecca because she is the spitting image of his deceased beloved.

In the last film, there were times where I felt this film was more “visual eye-candy” and for the most part, this is an all-action film that is no doubt looks awesome in 4K Ultra HD.  But I feel there is a much better storyline this time around and you get a good balance of storyline and visual eye-candy.

The 4K Ultra HD release looks magnificent and the lossless soundtrack is also immersive.  You get special features on the Blu-ray disc as well on the bonus disc provided.  Unfortunately, no UltraViolet HD code was provided, which was surprising but still, you do get three discs included.

Overall, if you are a fan of the “Resident Evil” series and loved the video games and the previous two animated films, I can easily say that “Resident Evil: Vendetta” is the best animated film of the three so far, storywise and also awesome CG to go along with the story.  Definitely an animated film that I recommend for RE fans!

DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 6 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

With the sixth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, we finally get the climactic episodes involving Mikado, Masuomi, Celty, Shinra, Shizuo and more. But a lot of questions finally getting the answers that many have waited all season for. If you love action, humor and all out mayhem and have stuck with “Durarara!! x2” for this long, this sixth volume is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 6

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 31-36 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: December 13, 2016


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


“So tonight, the Dollars are done.”

Although the childhood friends finally reunite, is it too late for Masaomi to change Mikado’s mind? As Mikado plans to end everything including the Dollars that he founded as well as his own life, Mikado’s true intentions are finally revealed…

Don’t miss the grand finale of the Durarara!! x2 series!


It was revealed that Mikado masterminded the chaos in Ikebukuro and now his best friend Masaomi Kida knows he must get to his friend before things get worse.

Meanwhile, will Celty Sturluson leave the one man who cares about her…Shinra Kishitani?

And what happens when Shizuo Heiwajima and Varona confront each other.

Will the chaos and gang wars happening in Ikebukuro ever end?  Find out in the final sixth volume of “DuRaRaRa!! x2”!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durarara!! x 2” Volume 6 (episodes 31-36), chaos continues in Ikebukuro. But it is revealed that Mikado Ryugamine has changed completely and with the return of Masaomi (who was responsible for enticing Mikado to move to Ikebukuro), he can’t believe how his friend has changed for the worse and Mikado wants to beat some sense into Mikado’s head.

What happens when Masaomi and Mikado finally confront each other?


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.
  • Akane Awakusu – Daughter of Mikiya and granddaughter of Dougen. Not aware her family is a powerful yakuza group.
  • Mizuki Akabayashi – A.k.a. “Red Demon”, a high-ranking member of the Awakusu Family.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second. Vibrant animation can be seen throughout the series thus far.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 6 comes with episode 19.5, a hilarious episode featuring an overweight wannabe who tries to tell people he is Shizuo and other characters and the trouble that ensues for him pretending.

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 6 comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


With the latest episodes of “Durarara!! x2”, the chaos in Ikebukuro finally comes to an end.

We have seen how Mikado has confused everyone with his actions but slowly see how his strategy of trying to turn the Dollars into an urban legend has come to fruition.

But in the process of trying to pull of something so dangerous, Mikado is lost in the darkness and his friend Masaomi Kida has finally arrived to knock some sense into him.  That is until Mikado takes out his guns and possibly trying to kill his best friend or possibly himself?

Meanwhile, the truth of Celty is revealed and why she has been trying to say she has amnesia.  Will Shinra stand behind her?

And of course, so much more story involving other characters and the trouble that was unleashed on Ikebukuro and its aftermath.

Suffice to say, this was a considerable build-up to get to this final episodes of “DuRaRaRa!! x 2”.  To show how meticulous Mikado was and how his involvement with the Dollars has slowly twisted his logic, it was no doubt a shock to see this meek individual transform into something so dark and twisted.

But of course, with so much chaos taking place in the series, there were too many individuals who acted and are antagonists that Mikado was someone that we pity, versus seeing him as cold and calculated.

Too many things happening and too many things going wrong with other characters that until you reach these final episodes, you realized that there was a world of hurt going on not just in Ikebukuro but inside the hearts of some of these characters.

It was a long build-up to get to these final episodes and while worth the wait, there is part of me that felt it went on too long. But nevertheless, I did enjoy these final episodes of “DuRaRaRa!! x2” and it will be interesting to see where the story goes on for its next story arc, as the manga series is still ongoing.

Overall, “Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues. Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that.

But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is!

With the sixth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, we finally get the climactic episodes involving Mikado, Masuomi, Celty, Shinra, Shizuo and more.  But a lot of questions finally getting the answers that many have waited all season for.

If you love action, humor and all out mayhem and have stuck with “Durarara!! x2” for this long, this sixth volume is recommended!

DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 5 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

With the fifth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, this final chapter is leading to the final conclusion of the season as Mikado’s ideas are revealed and new unions are born, meanwhile the unpredictable Izaya may be up to no good.If you love action, humor and all out mayhem, “Durarara!! x2” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 5

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 25-30 (150 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: October 18, 2016


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


This is a twisted story… a story of twisted love.

Shizuo is arrested by the police, Celty is in pursuit of Kasane who has kidnapped Shinra, Chikage’s gloves come off as he challenges Masaomi, and Varona is back to being her old self as a hitman… Everyone is getting involved in some dark scheme. However, no one knows Mikado’s real plan yet…

The story is heading towards the epic finale.


Things are getting worse in Ikebukuro as Mikado and the dollars are in a battle with the yellow scarves.  Various factions want to have Celty’s head.

Will the sadistic Haruna Niekawa kill Anri?  Meanwhile, the mysterious Kasane Kujiragi has appeared and to reveal that she is a wielder of the saika.

And what is Izaya up to and the goal of Mikado and why he has changed is revealed.  Find out what happens in “Durarara!! x2 vol. 5” on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durarara!! x 2” Volume 5 (episodes 25-30), chaos continues in Ikebukuro. But it is revealed that Mikado Ryugamine has changed completely and with the return of Masaomi (who was responsible for enticing Mikado to move to Ikebukuro), he can’t believe how his friend has changed for the worse and Mikado wants to beat some sense into Mikado’s head.

Izaya is back to his manipulating ways and when news of factions are going after Celty’s head, Shizuo hears of this and wants to get back into the action.

Meanwhile, the power of the saika wielders are revealed, Mikado’s reasoning of what he is doing is revealed and more!


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.
  • Akane Awakusu – Daughter of Mikiya and granddaughter of Dougen. Not aware her family is a powerful yakuza group.
  • Mizuki Akabayashi – A.k.a. “Red Demon”, a high-ranking member of the Awakusu Family.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second. Vibrant animation can be seen throughout the series thus far.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 5 comes with the textless opening and ending scene.

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 5  comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


With the latest episodes of “Durarara!! x2”, the chaos in Ikebukuro continues. But most importantly, we finally get answers to why Mikado has been behaving the way he has.  And to make things worse, Izaya supports him.

As factions battle for the possession of Celty’s head, various groups and acquaintances decide to form a temporary group to prevent more chaos and Celty to lead this guild.

Meanwhile, is Anri in danger?

As for the Blu-ray release, the original crew is back but while produced by Shuka, overall quality for the series is still good. Colors are vibrant in HD and you get an LPCM 2.0 Japanese and English soundtrack. Once again, the English dub for “Durarara!!” is awesome and very well-done. I was enjoying the Japanese soundtrack but after watching the English dub track, everything fits and each voice actor that was cast is perfect for the role they play.

Overall, “Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues. Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that.

But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is!

With the fifth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, this final chapter is leading to the final conclusion of the season as Mikado’s ideas are revealed and new unions are born, meanwhile the unpredictable Izaya may be up to no good.

If you love action, humor and all out mayhem, “Durarara!! x2” is recommended!

DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 4 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

durarax2-4

“Durarara!! x2” is becoming more intense at the series progresses as characters are now starting to see the change in Mikado’s demeanor.  With the return of Masaomi, in order to help his friend, he must unite the former Yellow Scarves members and destroy the Dollars.  If you love action-driven anime series, “Durarara!! x2” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 4

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 19-24 + OVA 13.5 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: May 24, 2016


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


Izaya quietly returns to Ikebukuro and schemes a plot pulling strings of various people from the shadows. Worried that Mikado may be manipulated by Izaya, Masaomi comes back to Ikebukuro as well. But he finds out that his best friend is a different person from what he remembers… In order to save Mikado, who has gotten stuck in the darkness, Masaomi determines to gather the ex-Yellow Scarf members to crush the Dollars. Meanwhile, Izaya, while searching for “Jinnai Yodogiri” who stabbed him, incidentally finds a secret of this mysterious man and finds himself in grave danger!


Masaomi Kida, the founder of the Yellow Scarves.  And a person who left the gang he founded, vowing to never be consumed by the darkness.

But now Masaomi is back in Ikebukuro and when he sees Mikado Ryuugamine (leader of the Dollars) once again, he realizes that his good friend is no longer the same and may have been consumed by the darkness.

Masaomi tries to gather ex-Yellow Scarves members in order to crush the Dollars.

Meanwhile, Izaya Orihara searches for “Jinnai Yodogiri”, the person who stabbed him.

Find out what happens in “Durarara!! x2 vol. 4” now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durarara!! x 2” Volume 3 (episodes 19-24), chaos continues in Ikebukuro.  But it is revealed that Mikado Ryugamine has changed completely and with the return of Masaomi (who was responsible for enticing Mikado to move to Ikebukuro), he can’t believe how his friend has changed for the worse.

Meanwhile, Izaya is now back on the scene and wanting to get more information on the person who is responsible for stabbing him.

Also, will Celty arrive in time to save Shinra who was brutally attacked?


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.
  • Akane Awakusu – Daughter of Mikiya and granddaughter of Dougen. Not aware her family is a powerful yakuza group.
  • Mizuki Akabayashi – A.k.a. “Red Demon”, a high-ranking member of the Awakusu Family.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second. Vibrant animation can be seen throughout the series thus far.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 4 comes with the following special feature:

  • OVA #13.5 – Love-Dove Clip-Clop – Featuring a date between Shinra and Celty (and various cosplay).

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


With the latest episodes of “Durarara!! x2”, the chaos in Ikebukuro continues.  But most importantly, we finally get to see the characters starting to see the changes that are taking place with Mikado.

As Masaomi has returned to Ikebukuro, he discovers that Mikado was in the bad place that he was once in.  Consumed by the darkness, Masaomi has vowed to never let that happen again.  But now, seeing the corruption of Mikado, he knows that he must destroy the dollars and unite his former ex-Yellow Scarves members to make it happen and somehow help Mikado.

There is also another storyline that involves Izaya searching for “Jinnai Yodogiri”, the person who stabbed him.  Also, a storyline plus an extra OAV for those who are fans of Celty and Shinra.

As for the Blu-ray release, the original crew is back but while produced by Shuka, overall quality for the series is still good. Colors are vibrant in HD and you get an LPCM 2.0 Japanese and English soundtrack. Once again, the English dub for “Durarara!!” is awesome and very well-done. I was enjoying the Japanese soundtrack but after watching the English dub track, everything fits and each voice actor that was cast is perfect for the role they play.

As mentioned, you do get an episode 13.5 OVA but you also get the Aniplex swag of six postcards and a deluxe 16-page booklet as well.

Overall, “Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues. Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that.

But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is!

With the fourth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, this ends the second chapter, while the next volume will kick off the third chapter.

If you love action, “Durarara!! x2” is recommended!

DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 3 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

durarax2-3

“Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues. Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that. But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 3

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 13-18 (150 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: March 22, 2016


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


The story continues as more chaos ensues—

In the aftermath of the assault against Izaya Orihara, the information broker, signs of new disorder begin to develop like ripples across the water. Holding his own ideals, Mikado gains the powers of both the “Dollars” and the “Blue Squares” and started “cleaning” the bad seeds inside the Dollars. Meanwhile, Shizuo Heiwajima and Tom Watanabe end up hiring Varona for their debt collecting business. Paths cross and trouble brews as the plot thickens in this complicated web of conspiracies.


We have watched Dollars leader, Mikado Ryugamine wanting to stay true to his ideals, meeting and having new friends along the way.

But since Mikado has become the temporary leader of the Blue Squares, many are starting to see a change in him.  What is going on with Mikado?

Meanwhile, Russian assassin Vorona has tried many times to defeat and kill Shizuo Heiwajima.  Having failed, what happens when Shizuo and Tom Tanaka hire Vorona for their debt collection agency?  And why is little Akane jealous?

And how far will Namie Yagiri, Chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals go to stop Mika Harima from being close to her brother Seiji?

And there is a sicko who has been stalking, idol Ruri Hijiribe.  Who is this guy?

Find out what happens in “Durarara!! x2 vol. 3” now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durara!! x 2” Volume 3 (episodes 13-18), chaos continues in Ikebukuro as people pretending to be Dollars are attacking innocent people.  Meanwhile, Namie wants to take her revenge on Mika.

Meanwhile, Russian assassin Vorona has tried many times to defeat and kill Shizuo Heiwajima.  Having failed, what happens when Shizuo and Tom Tanaka hire Vorona for their debt collection agency?   And why would she want to help out her enemy? And why is little Akane so jealous of Vorona?

And there is a crazed maniac who has been stalking, idol Ruri Hijiribe.  Who is this guy?


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.
  • Akane Awakusu – Daughter of Mikiya and granddaughter of Dougen.  Not aware her family is a powerful yakuza group.
  • Mizuki Akabayashi – A.k.a. “Red Demon”, a high-ranking member of the Awakusu Family.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second.  Vibrant animation can be seen throughout the series thus far.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 3 comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


The craziness in Ikebukuro continues with the release of “Durarara!! x 2”!

And I personally like the story shift that we are starting to see with episodes 13-18.

For one, you get a good combination of action, humor and a dark storyline.

The episodes kick off with the crazy Namie Yagiri learning about Seiji and Mika and going crazy about it and wanting to take revenge against Mika for spending too much time with her brother.

The next episodes are more humor and action-oriented as Vorona ends up joining the debt collection agency that Tom and Shizuo runs.  And having seen Vorona try over and over to kill Shizuo Heiwajima, it’s interesting to see her now join them (of course, she looks at it as gaining intel, but could it be that she’s starting to admire his strength?).  Of course, little Akane is jealous as she wants to be the person to kill Shizuo, even though she adores him.

And the other episodes is in relation to Ruri and her stalker.  Her stalker is strong, sadistic and has a thing about eating and licking Ruri’s photos.  So, it will be interesting to see what kind of a foe he ends up being for Ruri and her friends. But from the look of his overall design, you have no doubt, he is going to be a crazy antagonist.

Meanwhile, there is an interesting storyline as others worry about Mikado and how he has changed as a person.  Mikado played such a big role in the first season, but he is going through this darker transformation that makes you wonder if this good-natured guy is slowly being consumed by something much darker.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see in future episodes.

As for the Blu-ray release, the original crew is back but while produced by Shuka, overall quality for the series is still good. Colors are vibrant in HD and you get an LPCM 2.0 Japanese and English soundtrack. Once again, the English dub for “Durarara!!” is awesome and very well-done. I was enjoying the Japanese soundtrack but after watching the English dub track, everything fits and each voice actor that was cast is perfect for the role they play.

Unfortunately, no special features in this latst volume but you also get the Aniplex swag of six postcards and a deluxe 16-page booklet as well.

Overall, “Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues.  Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that.

But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is!

Recommended!

DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 2 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

package02

 “Durarara!! x 2” has transitioned from being a bit enjoyable to ramping things up and becoming more riveting.   Things really get chaotic and crazy and what happens to the characters after these episodes, I guess we’ll have to wait until volume 3!  If you enjoyed the first season of “Durarara!!”, definitely give this second season a chance! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 2

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 7-12 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 24, 2015


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


Falling right into Izaya’s trap and framed for the murders of their members, Shizuo finds himself on the run from the Awakusu Group. Meanwhile, the rumor that the Dollars members are engaging in assaults against the Toramaru gang enrages Chikage Rokujo, the leader of Toramaru, and he rushes to Ikebukuro for revenge. Mikado is frustrated with the current situation that the Dollars are in but is unable to do anything to mend the situation. At the same time, Aoba proposes that Mikado become the new leader of the Blue Squares. Mikado makes a decision that may damage his friendship with Masaomi and Anri. Various emotions come together as an ominous scent fills the city.


Who are the two Russian assassins?  A gang war between the Dollars and the Toramaru?  Shizuo accused of murder?  And Why is Aoba Kuronuma visiting Mikado?

Chaos has once again returned to Ikebukuro and things will never be the same again!

Find out what happens in “Durarara!! x2 vol. 2” now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durara!! x 2” Volume 2 (episodes 7-12), chaos has once again returned to Ikebukuro as two Russian assassins are creating problems, Shizuo is accused of murder and kidnapping of a young girl (Akane Awakusu).

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, tensions between the Dollars and the Toramaru gang is starting to heat up as Chikage Rokugjo exacts his revenge against the Dollars.  Leading to a gang war!

Varona and Sloan pursue Celty and Aoba Kuronuma reveals himself as the leader of the Blue Squares and confronts Mikado about being the leader of the Dollars.


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with the following special features:

  • OVA 4.5 – Hot-Pot in My Mind – (24:03) Mikado comes home to find his friends at his home for a hot-pot party.  Meanwhile, we get to see the past with Mikado and Masaomi.

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


The craziness in Ikebukuro continues with the release of “Durarara!! x 2”!

Once in a while, you will find an anime series that just surprises you for its storyline, animation, art background and overall presentation. The original “Durarara!!” is an anime that literally surprised me by its quality and I have to say, this is one of the coolest anime series I have seen in awhile and I’m so thrilled that an ongoing series is now being aired in Japan.

For anime series, you often seen the banality of reused storylines with slight changes and different animation and for the most part, while characters and storyline are different, things are much similar in concept. With “Durarara!!”, while not as dark as “Boogiepop Phantom”, and the fact it is created by “Baccano!” writer Ryohgo Narita, he still manages to craft a fresh, urban, fantasy, supernatural storyline.

And what makes it so fun is how certain scenes of different characters and storylines are interconnected.

While watching the first episodes for the first volume, I noticed that it was focusing on a lot of different characters.  Characters who usually are in the background and the only character you really see the most (from the first season) is Celty.

But now with this second volume, things get more chaotic and crazy as the storyline becomes more complex and another gang war is about to erupt in Ikeburo.   The first two episodes continues the storyline of secondary characters having their own plot lines.  In this case, the focus shifts to two Russian assassins in Japan, who are murdering and killing people.

And of course, this leads to fingers pointing towards Shizuo, who had nothing to do with it.  But his name is being thrown around that he is a murderer and a kidnapper (trying to kidnap Akane Awakusu), when he had nothing to do with it.

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, tensions between the Dollars and the Toramaru gang is starting to heat up as Chikage Rokugjo exacts his revenge against the Dollars.  Varona and Sloan pursue Celty and Aoba Kuronuma reveals himself to be the leader of the Blue Squares and he and his gang confronts Mikado with a major proposition.  And after this meeting, it’ll be interesting if Mikado will ever be the same person due to the aftermath of all the chaos that transpires.

As for the Blu-ray release, the original crew is back but while produced by Shuka, overall quality for the series is still good. Colors are vibrant in HD and you get an LPCM 2.0 Japanese and English soundtrack. Once again, the English dub for “Durarara!!” is awesome and very well-done. I was enjoying the Japanese soundtrack but after watching the English dub track, everything fits and each voice actor that was cast is perfect for the role they play.

For those who haven’t watched the original series or forgot how the first series went, the good news is that a pre-air special is included as a special feature. You also get the Aniplex swag of postcards and deluxe 16-page booklet as well.

Overall, “Durarara!! x 2” has transitioned from being a bit enjoyable to ramping things up and becoming more riveting.   Things really get chaotic and crazy and what happens to the characters after these episodes, I guess we’ll have to wait until volume 3!  If you enjoyed the first season of “Durarara!!”, definitely give this second season a chance! Recommended!

Durarara!! x 2 Volume 1 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

durarax2

“Durarara!! x 2” is an enjoyable series.  While the first series was amazing in its own-right, the second series introduces more characters and also more interesting and deadly situations happening in the city of Ikebukuro.  The first six episodes are good, but I look forward to seeing how the series progresses overtime.

Images courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 1

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 1-6 (150 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: September 29, 2015


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


Half a year after the turmoil that rocked the entire city of Ikebukuro – peace has once again returned to the city and people are living each day normally. The high school students enjoy their days of youth as the strongest and most dangerous man of Ikebukuro works diligently. The informant plots a new scheme and the headless rider is pursued by the cops as she rides through the night. But soon this ordinary life will be cut short by extraordinariness. Slowly but surely, the unknown will seize the city and face an all new storm.


Following the events from the first season of “Durara!!”, “Durara!! x2” begins with Celty being chased by Kinnosuke Kuzuhara (and also being followed by a TV van).  As the legend of Celty has made her a celebrity and with Max Sandshelt offering 10 million yen to anyone who can reveal her identity, thus a bounty has led people of wanting to capture her, there have been recent murders in the city by a criminal known as “Hollywood”.

Will Celty find out who Hollywood is? Find out in “Durarara!! x2 vol. 1” now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet.  But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durara!! x 2” Volume 1 (episodes 1-6), Max Sandshelt is now offering 10 million yen to anyone who can uncover the identity of Celty and now many are doing all they can to follow her and uncover her true identity.  Meanwhile, a new murderer known as “Hollywood” is in the city?  Who is this monster?


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series.  With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds.  Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo.  There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Pre-Air SP Talk Show – (24:09) An special episode that aired in Japan to introduce or refreshen the memories of those who watched “Durarara!!” before the airing of the second series.
  • Textless Opening and Ending

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


durarax2-b

The craziness in Ikebukuro continues with the release of “Durarara!! x 2”!

Once in a while, you will find an anime series that just surprises you for its storyline, animation, art background and overall presentation.  The original “Durarara!!” is an anime that literally surprised me by its quality and I have to say, this is one of the coolest anime series I have seen in awhile and I’m so thrilled that an ongoing series is now being aired in Japan.

For anime series, you often seen the banality of reused storylines with slight changes and different animation and for the most part, while characters and storyline are different, things are much similar in concept. With “Durarara!!”, while not as dark as “Boogiepop Phantom”, and the fact it is created by “Baccano!” writer Ryohgo Narita, he still manages to craft a fresh, urban, fantasy, supernatural storyline.

And what makes it so fun is how certain scenes of different characters and storylines are interconnected.

While the first series did a wonderful job of integrating many characters, the second series also continues that but there is a big focus on Celty, a quick introduction (didn’t take long) of who the Hollywood killer is.  But this time, we see other characters getting featured quite prominently (for the first six episodes) such as Shizuo’s younger brother Kasuka, Izaya’s younger twin sisters Kururi and Rokuji, Aoba Kuronuma.  So, there are a lot of character interactions in this second series, rather than focus on a main group.

But so far, I’m enjoying the series and seeing what direction the series will eventually go.

As for the Blu-ray release, the original crew is back but while produced by Shuka, overall quality for the series is still good.  Colors are vibrant in HD and you get an LPCM Japanese and English soundtrack.  Once again, the English dub for “Durarara!!” is awesome and very well-done. I was enjoying the Japanese soundtrack but after watching the English dub track, everything fits and each voice actor that was cast is perfect for the role they play.

For those who haven’t watched the original series or forgot how the first series went, the good news is that a pre-air special is included as a special feature.  You also get the Aniplex swag of postcards and deluxe booklet as well.

Overall, “Durarara!! x 2” is an enjoyable series.  While the first series was amazing in its own-right, the second series introduces more characters and also more interesting and deadly situations happening in the city of Ikebukuro.  The first six episodes are good, but I look forward to seeing how the series progresses overtime.

Monsuno: Combat Chaos (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

monsuno-combatchaos

“Monsuno: Combat Chaos” continues the adventures of Team Core-Tech in the first five episodes of season two! “Monsuno” is a fun and entertaining animated series that has similarities to shows such as “Pokemon” or “Digimon” but a unique story that ties in with their toy merchandise line very well. An animated series that parents (who are young at heart) will enjoy watching with their children and safe action animated series for the children to watch on their own.   “Monsuno: Combat Chaos” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Pacific Animation Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Monsuno: Combat Chaos

DURATION: Episodes 28-31 (110 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Color, NTSC, English Dolby Digital 2.0

COMPANY: Jakks Pacific, dentsu, Fremantle Media Enterprises, Topps, Shout Factory

RATED: TV Y7 FV

Release Date: August 27, 2013

Director: Yoshiaki Okumura

Produced By: Jared Wolfson, Yukio Kusumoto

Producer: Chapman Maddox

Associate Producer: Joh Hudson, Yuichi Kinishita

Story Editor: Michael Ryan

Character Design: Yuichiro Hayashi

Creature Design: Designmate

Animation Creature Design: Hiroto Kato

Creature Design Director: Takaaki Hirayama, Masahiko Okura, Hiroto Kato

Art Director: Tomoko Iwasa

Mecha / Prop Design: Yasuhiro Moriki

Background Director: Shigemi Ikeda

Background Art: Shigemi Ikeda

Music by Michael Taera

Cinematography by Naoki Serizawa

Edited by Masaki Sakamoto

Casting by Rene Veilleux

Featuring the following voice talent:

Cam Clark as Chase

Christopher Smith as Bren

Karen Strassman as Jinja

Keith Silverstein as Dax

Kirk Thornton as Beyal

“Chase Suno and his Core-Tech team have emerged victorious in their most recent battle with Eklipse and S.T.O.R.M. With Core-Tech’s victory, Chase has been given the opportunity to decide the fate of the Monsuno. Believing that mankind and Monsuno can one day coexist peacefully, Chase allows them to live. But new foes lurk in the shadows, waiting for their chance to strike. Is now their time? Find out with the first five episodes of Monsuno’s outrageously exciting second season!”

With the first half of season two of “Monsuno” having aired on television, Shout! Factory will be releasing “Monsuno: Combat Chaos” on DVD.

Featuring the first five episodes of season two (episodes 27-31), with Team Core-Tech having defeated the Eklipse Organization, this time around, the team come face-to-face with a members of the Forge Resistance., Drezz and the Punk Monks who work for Professor Tallis.  As the enemies try to obtain the Wild Core Bomb that can destroy the entire city, Team Core-Tech wants to make sure it doesn’t happen!

What is Monsuno?

In Japan is known for having popular series that revolved around its product merchandise! From “Pokemon”, “Digimon”, “B-Daman”, “Bakugan” and many others.

But in America, replicating that success would have to feature toys that are fun to play and characters that children can identify with and also lead them to buying the merchandise in stores.

One of popular toys that have made it onto store shelves with a lot of buzz is “Monsuno” and for its animated series, we are seeing the collaboration between American and Japanese companies with the involvement of Dentsu, Jakks Pacific, FremantleMedia Enterprises and Topps.

“Monsuno” (also known as “Jusen Batoru Monsuno” or “Beast Rotation Battle Monsuno” in Japan) is directed by Yoshiaki Okumura (“Eyeshield 21”, “Dragon Drive”, “Eien no Aseria”), featuring character designs by Yuichiro Hayashi (“Soten Koro”, “PES: Peace Eco Smile”) and art direction by Shigemi Ikeda (“Bokurano”, “Basilisk”, “Gantz”, “Afro Samurai”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”, “InuYasha”).

Premiering on Nicktoons in the U.S. with a total of 26-episodes shown, “Monsuno” will receive its first DVD release (titled “Monsuno: Destiny”) courtesy of Shout Factory featuring the first five episodes.

“Monsuno” revolves around three teenagers: Chase Suno, Jinja and Bren. As all three are adventure-seeking individuals, both Jinja and Bren help Chase look for his father Jeredy Suno who has gone missing in the Himalayas.

When they arrive to S.T.O.R.M. lab, the place looks like it has received major damage but inside is Jon Ace, a man that Chase is familiar with. Jon tells Chase that his father left him something inside a sealed door but the only way to get access is through his handprint. When Jon puts his hand on the panel the door opens to reveal a a Monsuno Glowblade with a computer featuring a special message for his son. But once Chase grabs the GlowBlade, Charlemagne, the commander of S.T.O.R.M. has his soldiers hold Chase and friends by gunpoint and for them to give up the GlowBlade since it belongs to S.T.O.R.M.

But Chase refuses and when things go for the worse, Chase thinks about the message that his father left and so Chase throws the Monsuno GlowBlade to the ground and upon contact, a big Monsuno monster comes out. Nearly invincible Chase and friends run away. As the big white monster pretty much chases all soldiers of S.T.O.R.M. out of the building, including Chase and friends, thinking that Chase and friends have lost the big white monster, the monster finds them immediately.

But to their surprise, the big white monster, which Chase gives the name “Lock” is friendly to them. The computer message left by Chase’s father explains that he discovered Monsuno DNA that has been around since before mankind. And by using the DNA of other animals, he was able to create the Monsuno. In Lock’s case, he is a hybrid of a polar bear, gorilla and tiger But with this technology, he wants to keep it out of the hands of S.T.O.R.M. Also, learning that the GlowBlade is where the Monsuno lives and where it heals.

But just as Chase and friends think they have escaped from S.T.O.R.M., the evil company manages to find them and each time, a battle between S.T.O.R.M’s Monsuno vs. Chase’s Lock are engaged in battle.

Eventually in the next two episodes, we see how Bren and Jinja end up getting their own Monsuno, plus the trio learn how important it is to trust the right people because not only is S.T.O.R.M. after Locke, as well as the Monsuno, but other evil antagonists are after it as well.

With season two and Team Core-Tech having mastered their Monsuno, the group now faces a new threat… Professor Tallis who has sent members of the Forge Resistance in obtaining the destructive Wild Core Bomb.

The episodes featured in “Monsuno: Combat Chaos” are the following (spoilerless summaries):

  • EPISODE 27 – Flash – Team Core-Tech come face-to-face with members of the Forge Resistance, Drezz and the Punk Monks.
  • EPISODE 28 – Bang – Can Team Core-Tech prevent Professor Tallis and the Forge Resistance from using the Mega Wild Core Bomb.
  • EPISODE 29 – Mysterious – Medea and her team begin following Team Core-Tech, especially Chase.
  • EPISODE 30 – Antithesis – Team Core-Tech take on S.T.O.R.M’s Strike Squad.
  • EPISODE 31 – Kidnapped – Dax goes back to his hometown after receiving information about his parents, but it may be a trap!

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Monsuno” is an interesting animated series because right off the bat, it looks like an anime series but the character designs seem a bit different from most anime television series and that is probably because the studio was focusing on making the series look and feel like an anime but with a western animated feel. Character and monster designs are well animated and the art backgrounds look well-detailed and look very good on DVD.

Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and is front channel driven and English dialogue is clear and well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Monsuno: Combat Chaos” comes with short video profiles for Bren and Dax.

“Monsuno: Combat Chaos” is back with the first five episodes of season two.

Featuring Team Core-Tech taking on the Forge Resistance and Professor Tallis, they also run into some trouble with S.T.O.R.M.

As the first season focused on Chase Suno looking for his father and taking on S.T.O.R.M., the second season focuses on the team taking on a new antagonist who have weapons that can destroy the entire city.  And that is something that Chase and the team will not let happen.  But also episodes featuring Dax trying to get information about his missing parents.

With the last DVD’s focusing on the first ten episodes of season one, I was a bit surprise to see the jump to season two.  But I would imagine that hopefully that means “Monsuno” season one will receive a season box set.  But for now, for those who enjoyed season two, fortunately, the first five episodes are available now on DVD with “Combat Chaos”.

For the most part, “Monsuno” is an entertaining animated series featuring a joint-collaboration between American and Japanese companies and literally a series that helps promote the toyline courtesy of Jakks Pacific.

While the series has the feel of “Pokemon”, what makes the series so different is that the main protagonists are older teenagers and they tend to get themselves into trouble often. The series is action-packed but also tied to their toyline, so the teenagers are often seen throwing their “Monsuno” capsules to release them.

While I’m not sure how the toys are or how they are played, since the debut of the first DVD, I’ve been seeing a lot of “Monsuno” toys on the shelves, so I’m guessing the series has a dedicated audience.

“Monsuno” is also diverse as it features a Japanese (or Japanese American) protagonist with Chase Suno, Jinja is an independent, intelligent and kick-butt female protagonist and while Bren does a lot of whining, he makes up for it with his excellent computer skills. “Monsuno: Power” adds Beyal and Dax, two individuals who are also of a different race and adds to the diverse cast of the animated series so far.

My 10-year-old son is a big Pokemon fan but immediately after watching these five episodes, he was really getting into the series and wanted to check out the “Monsuno” toys immediately after watching. The whole concept of tossing your GlowBlade toy with a Monsuno coming out is quite interesting and I have no doubt that this series will appeal to children who will most likely ask their parents to purchase them the toys.

These five episodes of season two have been enjoyable but for parents who are wondering if the series is safe for their children, I would recommend it for older children.

The monsters may seem scar to younger children and the fact that Chase and friends are constantly being chased down by soldiers with weapons and they do get injured at times, while not super violent, parents may want to watch the series with their child to see if its right for them. But no doubt, I know that with these episodes alone, more than likely like my child, your children will be wanting the toys.

As for the DVD, while I prefer watching the series as a full complete season versus a five episode DVD release, I can only hope that Shout Factory does plan to release the whole series as a full set.  But for parents who have children who enjoy the toys, the kids will no doubt enjoy “Monsuno: Combat Chaos”.

Overall, “Monsuno” is a fun and entertaining animated series that has similarities to shows such as “Pokemon” or “Digimon” but a unique story that ties in with their toy merchandise line very well. An animated series that parents (who are young at heart) will enjoy watching with their children, me and my son really enjoyed “Monsuno” and look forward to the next DVD release.

“Monsuno: Combat Chaos” is recommended!

Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

An enjoyable mecha anime series with a fine balance of action, humor and drama.  “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” is a story about three teenager girls who must conquer their fears and protect the city of Kamogawa and its citizens with their mecha vox robots against aliens who have come to attack Earth.  For fans of mecha anime or for anime fans looking for something not too deep or dark, definitely give “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~Set 1” a chance.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Lagrange Project. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1 (輪廻のラグランジェ)

YEAR: 2012

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 Minutes (275 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV-MA

Release Date: June 11, 2013

Chief Director: Tatsuo Sato

Director: Toshimasa Suzuki

Series Composition by Shotaro Suga

Original Character Design by Haruyuki Morisawa

Character Design by Chizuru Kobayashi, Takushige Norita

Art Setting: Michie Watanabe

Music by Saeko Suzuki, TOMISIRO

Anime Production: Xebec, Production I.G.

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Kira Buckland as Madoka Kyono

Ai Kayano/Karen Strassman as Muginami

Asami Seto/Sophie Roberts as Lan

Ayumi Fujimura/Erika Harlacher as Ayane Iwa/Haruka Uehara

Azumi Asakura/Midge Mayes as Machiko Iwabuchi

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Ben Diskin as Izo

Hisako Kanemoto/Saki Shin as Asteria Lizamarie De Roschefall

Iori Nomizu/Erika Harlacher as Shōko Igarashi

Kazuyuki Okitsu/Vic Mignogna as Moid

Kenji Hamada/Bubba Chow as Hiroshi Nakaizumi

Kenji Nojima/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kirius

Makoto Yasumura/Patrick Seitz as Shōzō Tadokoro

Mamiko Noto/Wendee Lee as Yōko Nakaizumi

Megumi Nakajima/Cristina Vee as Grania

Rie Tanaka/Laura Post as Eri Watabe

Madoka Kyono is an energetic girl who is full of passion. As the proud, and only, member of the Kamogawa Girls’ High School Jersey Club, she goes around helping people in need. But Madoka’s life is turned upside down when she is suddenly asked by a mysterious girl named Lan to pilot a robot. Motivated by her desire to protect the people and city of Kamogawa, Madoka agrees to pilot the resurrected Vox robot to fight against extraterrestrials that have come to attack Earth.

In the summer of 2012, Xebec and Production I.G. joined forces in releasing the mecha anime series “Lagrange  ~The Flower of Rin-ne~”.

With an ongoing manga serialized in Square Enix’s “Young Gangan” magazine in 2011, a total of 25 episodes were released on television and an OVA was released with a PS3 video game.  And now “Lagrange  ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S. courtesy of Viz Media.

The Chief Director on “Lagrange  ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” is Tatsuo Sato (“Shigofumi – Letters from the Departed”, “Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars”, “Tokyo Tribe 2”), the series is directed by Toshimasa Suzuki (“Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu”, “Dance in the Vampire Bund”, “Polyphonica Crimson S”), music by Saeko Suzuki (“Brave King GaoGaiGar Final”, “Vampire Princess Miyu”) and TOMISIRO, character designs by Chizuru Kobayashi (“Pandora Hearts”), Takushige Norita (“Broken Blade”) and art direction by Michie Watanabe (“Wolf’s Rain”, “Fullmetal Alchemist”, “House of Five Leaves”).

“Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1” covers the first season and is a series that revolves around a teenager named Madoka Kyouno.  The sole member of the Jersey Club, she is a teenager that loves to help people. May it be saving people like a lifeguard at the beach, to helping other clubs in school.  But if anything, she feels it’s her duty to help those in need in her hometown of Kamogawa.  And she also has the habit of saying “perfect” while drawing a circle in the air.  She’s also a very good athlete and tries to excel in sports.

One day after saving a child from drowning (before heading out to school), while saving the boy, someone had taken her clothes.  So, Madoka ends up wearing her gym clothes to school.  By the time she gets out, she is approached by a unusual girl named Lan, who has the habit of saying “Woof” (she was told that was a human greeting for “hello”).

Lan approaches Madoka and asks her to follow her to an offshore base and asks her if she can pilot the robot aircraft known as a Vox (Ovid).

Immediately when she touches the space craft, she experiences a flashback being submerged in water but is not sure why.   Not long after, an enemy from outer space is seen piloting an Ovid attacks a base in Kamogawa and wanting to protect her city, Madoka goes after it with her Ovid.  And using her skills she learned through athletics, she surprises the enemy using a wrestling move and defeating him.

Shocked by what has occurred, Lan reveals to Madoka that she is an alien that was sent to Earth to protect Madoka and the Ovid, both which are linked together.  She introduces Madoka to the military and learns that the planet needs her help in defeating the enemy because the De Metrio are planning to destroy the planet and a group known as KISS is starting to cause problems with their Vox.  So, Madoka is the planet’s only hope!

Not knowing if she has what it takes to protect the planet, she believes as a Jersey Club member, she must fulfill her obligations to protecting Kamogawa from KISS.

Meanwhile, along the way, Madoka becomes good friends with Vox pilots Lan and Muginami who become new members of the Jersey Club.

Can these three working together, protect the city of Kamogawa and its citizens?

Find out in “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1”!

The main characters of “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” are:

  • Madoka Kyouno – The sole member of the Jersey Club who pilots a Vox.  She is the planet’s only hope and she is always want to protect the city, her friends and the people of the city.   She pilots a Vox which she has named as Midori and has recruited Lan and Muginami as members of the Jersey Club.
  • Lan – An alien who was unable to utilize her Vox, because of knowledge of an unknown fate that happens to Vox pilots.  But since she met Madoka, she overcomes her fear and learns to control her Vox which she names Orca.  Lan attends the same school as Madoka, keeping her identity of a space alien, secret to her classmates.  She is often jealous of Muginami.  Lan also holds a secret of her true identity.
  • Muginami – A well-endowed, slow-witted person who acts naive.  Her brother is Villagiullio of De Metrio, but after trying to infiltrate the Pharos Base to steal a Vox (which she named Hupo), she is abandoned by her brother and left alone.  But feeling bad for her, Madoka takes her in as a friend and member of the Jersey Club.
  • Youko Nakaziumi – Madoka’s cousin and a researcher on underwater archaeology.  She knows a little about Madoka’s past (which Madoka doesn’t remember) and tries to prevent Madoka from getting in contact with a Vox but eventually allows her to pilot the Vox under one condition, she lives her daily life normally.  She is a former Jersey Club member and is the one who inspired Madoka to be a protector.
  • Hiroshi Nakaziumi – Madoka’s uncle and Yokou’s father who owns a restaurant.
  • Machiko Iwabuchi – A teacher at Madoka’s high school and a former member of the Jersey Club and also a friend of Madoka’s mother and Youko.
  • Shozo Tadokoro – The Commander of the Pharos base.
  • Asteria Lizamarie De Roschefall – The granddaughter of the chairman of Nomundus and is responsible for making the orders for Pharos.  She often dress in Lolita fashion and carries a secret.
  • Villagulio – The disowned prince of De Metrio who forms a rebellious organization known as “KISS”, and comes to Earth to investigate.
  • Kirius – A pilot for Kiss and is the eldest member of the three pilots working with Villagulio.
  • Izo – A pilot for Kiss and a hot tempered individual.
  • Array – A pilot for Kiss and is the youngest of the three.  He often wears maid outfits.

VIDEO:

“Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1” is presented in 1080p High Definition that combines beautiful backgrounds, wonderful mechanical designs and a colorful series that looks beautiful on Blu-ray.  While character designs are well-done, I’m really impressed by the architectural and also mecha design for this series.  Featuring CG and beautifully painted artwork, I was impressed by the style, look and feel of the entire series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD MA 2.0.  Both are well-acted and will entertain anime viewers with either language.  If there was one thing that I wished the series had was a better lossless and immersive soundtrack.  For a series with a lot of action, it would have been great to hear a 5.1 or 7.1 soundtrack.  But the fact is that a lot of Japanese animation is made in 2.0 and Viz Media tends to not stray from that.

It’s important to note that you can not change audio or subtitles with the usual button, you need to go into the menu and select English audio or Japanese audio with English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~ Set 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Production Art – Cycle through various production art using your remote.
  • Clean Opening and Ending
  • Kamogawa Drama – (15:13) A collection of short “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” animated clips about three minutes each.  Some feature the characters in super-deformed chibi format.  Stories examples include Madoka and friends treasure hunting in a pool, a video game competition amongst the KISS members and more.  In Japanese audio with English subtitles only.

Watching “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~”, there have been quite a few anime about the girl who pilots a mecha from “Gunbuster”, “Gravion”, “Super Robot War”, “Macross”, “Evangelion”, the concept is nothing new.  But it’s how you keep the anime series fresh and different from the other titles, that make it much more interesting and exciting.

What “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” does quite well is having a protagonist that has is not too weepy, not too weak, not too whiny and if anything, a high school student that is a bit unsure but is determined to protect others.

From her bubbly personality, Madoka wins you over with her naivety but also her determination and her “Perfect” hand gesture.  There is none of the overdone self-doubting or underdog nature that we typically see in a mecha anime series, this is a series about a teen who has made up her mind that her life is defending her friends, her city and doing it to the best of her ability.

Throw in other characters such as Lan, the girl from outerspace that is trying to understand her emotions and finds herself joining the Madoka bandwagon and confronting her own fears.  While Muginami is your bubbly personality, well-endowed character who actually has more of a difficult pass and also a more difficult situation because her brother, that she has always looked up to, is the enemy.

Put these three teenagers together and the result is a mix between a teenage high school anime series drama and an action-packed mecha battle session.  There is no worry of perverted guys, this is not a harem anime series nor is it an anime series that tries to copy other titles.  It’s enjoyable, fascinating and quite an uplifting anime series.

The first season tends to deal with character introductions.  We get to learn more about what made Madoka so brave and the fears she faced in her past after losing her mother, we learn about Lan’s fears and how Moid doesn’t expect much out of her as a Vox pilot.  We also introduced about Muginami and her past and how she is loyal to her brother and how painful it is for her now to fight against him.

While rated TV Mature, that is because the opening episodes tried to incorporate a few fan service with brief nudity and panty shots.  In many ways, I’m glad that this series didn’t turn out to be another “Gravion” of even another “Strike Witches”, if anything, it’s about three friends trying to defend the city of Kamogawa from alien enemy attack.

And a storyline with fascinating twists that will surely setup an exciting second season.

As for the Blu-ray released, Production I.G. titles tend to look beautiful when it comes to detail and art backgrounds and while a Xebec produced anime series, it’s the use of characters, the added detail and mecha design that makes “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” so gorgeous on Blu-ray considering it is a TV series.

While I wish the lossless soundtrack was much more immersive, considering the amount of mecha action, the fact is a lot of anime series are 2.0 and it’s up to the company if they choose to added an immersive soundtrack for the Blu-ray release.  But Viz Media has typically kept things to its original presentation and so both Japanese and English soundtracks are DTS-HD MA 2.0.  Both are well-acted, but I just wished it was a title that would have featured immersive lossless audio and given a 5.1 or 7.2 treatment.

Overall, “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” has turned out to be an awesome, exciting mecha series that is a lot of fun and features very cool characters.

While the series may not be as deep as other mecha series, it does try to keep a good balance of humor, drama and action and so far it’s working!

If you are looking for an upbeat mecha anime series on Blu-ray, definitely give “Lagrange ~The Flower of Rin-ne~” a chance!  Recommended!

Monsuno: Power (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

May 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Monsuno” is a fun and entertaining animated series that has similarities to shows such as “Pokemon” or “Digimon” but a unique story that ties in with their toy merchandise line very well. An animated series that parents (who are young at heart) will enjoy watching with their children, “Monsuno: Power” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2011 Pacific Animation Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Monsuno: Power

DURATION: Episodes 6-10 (110 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Color, NTSC, English Dolby Digital 2.0

COMPANY: Jakks Pacific, dentsu, Fremantle Media Enterprises, Topps, Shout Factory

RATED: TV Y7 FV

Release Date: May 21, 2013

Director: Yoshiaki Okumura

Produced By: Jared Wolfson, Yukio Kusumoto

Producer: Chapman Maddox

Associate Producer: Joh Hudson, Yuichi Kinishita

Story Editor: Michael Ryan

Character Design: Yuichiro Hayashi

Creature Design: Designmate

Animation Creature Design: Hiroto Kato

Creature Design Director: Takaaki Hirayama, Masahiko Okura, Hiroto Kato

Art Director: Tomoko Iwasa

Mecha / Prop Design: Yasuhiro Moriki

Background Director: Shigemi Ikeda

Background Art: Shigemi Ikeda

Music by Michael Taera

Cinematography by Naoki Serizawa

Edited by Masaki Sakamoto

Casting by Rene Veilleux

Featuring the following voice talent:

Cam Clark as Chase

Christopher Smith as Bren

Karen Strassman as Jinja

Keith Silverstein as Dax

Kirk Thornton as Beyal

The Monsuno series is a high-octane epic action-adventure series where kids discover, command and battle creatures with tremendous destructive potential. When a race to harness the power of Monsuno ensues between a group of teenagers and evil forces focused on destroying the Earth, the adolescents spring into action to defend our planet! Built around powerful, action-driven animation, dynamic characters and a deeply woven original story mythology

The adventures continue in the second “Monsuno” DVD as Chase Suno, Jinja, Bren and Beyal search for Chase’s father, meanwhile Commandant Marshall Charlemagne continues to pursue them.  But the group meet a cocky individual named Dax, but is he friend or foe?

Find out in the episodes 5-10 of of “Monsuno”!

What is Monsuno?

In Japan is known for having popular series that revolved around its product merchandise! From “Pokemon”, “Digimon”, “B-Daman”, “Bakugan” and many others.

But in America, replicating that success would have to feature toys that are fun to play and characters that children can identify with and also lead them to buying the merchandise in stores.

One of popular toys that have made it onto store shelves with a lot of buzz is “Monsuno” and for its animated series, we are seeing the collaboration between American and Japanese companies with the involvement of Dentsu, Jakks Pacific, FremantleMedia Enterprises and Topps.

“Monsuno” (also known as “Jusen Batoru Monsuno” or “Beast Rotation Battle Monsuno” in Japan) is directed by Yoshiaki Okumura (“Eyeshield 21”, “Dragon Drive”, “Eien no Aseria”), featuring character designs by Yuichiro Hayashi (“Soten Koro”, “PES: Peace Eco Smile”) and art direction by Shigemi Ikeda (“Bokurano”, “Basilisk”, “Gantz”, “Afro Samurai”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”, “InuYasha”).

Premiering on Nicktoons in the U.S. with a total of 26-episodes shown, “Monsuno” will receive its first DVD release (titled “Monsuno: Destiny”) courtesy of Shout Factory featuring the first five episodes.

“Monsuno” revolves around three teenagers: Chase Suno, Jinja and Bren. As all three are adventure-seeking individuals, both Jinja and Bren help Chase look for his father Jeredy Suno who has gone missing in the Himalayas.

When they arrive to S.T.O.R.M. lab, the place looks like it has received major damage but inside is Jon Ace, a man that Chase is familiar with. Jon tells Chase that his father left him something inside a sealed door but the only way to get access is through his handprint. When Jon puts his hand on the panel the door opens to reveal a a Monsuno Glowblade with a computer featuring a special message for his son. But once Chase grabs the GlowBlade, Charlemagne, the commander of S.T.O.R.M. has his soldiers hold Chase and friends by gunpoint and for them to give up the GlowBlade since it belongs to S.T.O.R.M.

But Chase refuses and when things go for the worse, Chase thinks about the message that his father left and so Chase throws the Monsuno GlowBlade to the ground and upon contact, a big Monsuno monster comes out. Nearly invincible Chase and friends run away. As the big white monster pretty much chases all soldiers of S.T.O.R.M. out of the building, including Chase and friends, thinking that Chase and friends have lost the big white monster, the monster finds them immediately.

But to their surprise, the big white monster, which Chase gives the name “Lock” is friendly to them. The computer message left by Chase’s father explains that he discovered Monsuno DNA that has been around since before mankind. And by using the DNA of other animals, he was able to create the Monsuno. In Lock’s case, he is a hybrid of a polar bear, gorilla and tiger But with this technology, he wants to keep it out of the hands of S.T.O.R.M. Also, learning that the GlowBlade is where the Monsuno lives and where it heals.

But just as Chase and friends think they have escaped from S.T.O.R.M., the evil company manages to find them and each time, a battle between S.T.O.R.M’s Monsuno vs. Chase’s Lock are engaged in battle.

Eventually in the next two episodes, we see how Bren and Jinja end up getting their own Monsuno, plus the trio learn how important it is to trust the right people because not only is S.T.O.R.M. after Locke, as well as the Monsuno, but other evil antagonists are after it as well.

Can Chase and friends find his father in time? And will he and his friends be able to master the Monsuno in battle?

In “Monsuno: Power”, as the group have traveled to Mandala and met a young controller named Beyal, S.T.O.R.M. tries to set-up a blockade to prevent Team Core-Tech to leave Mandala.  Meanwhile, Beyal reveals through meditation that there will be a fifth member to join them.  While Chase is determined in finding his brother, Jinja starts to have a crush on Beyal and Bren starts to be disappointed that others are joining the group.

The episodes featured in “Monsuno: Power” are the following (spoilerless summaries):

  • EPISODE 6 – Breakthrough – As the group try to leave Mandala, S.T.O.R.M. tries to prevent the group from leaving.
  • EPISODE 7 – R.S.V.P. – As the group head to the Lowlands, the group run into a cocky controller named Dax and Chase goes against him.
  • EPISODE 8 – Appleseeds – The group continue on to the Lowlands to follow Dax, but can they trust him?
  • EPISODE 9 – Eye – Dax joins the team, but no one trusts him.
  • EPISODE 10 – Deceit – Dax joins the group and Chase wonders if the fifth member should be Dax.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Monsuno” is an interesting animated series because right off the bat, it looks like an anime series but the character designs seem a bit different from most anime television series and that is probably because the studio was focusing on making the series look and feel like an anime but with a western animated feel. Character and monster designs are well animated and the art backgrounds look well-detailed and look very good on DVD.

Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and is front channel driven and English dialogue is clear and well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Monsuno: Power” comes with short video profiles for Dr. Klipse and Jinja.

The group continues to grow with the addition of Beyal and Dax in the latest episodes of “Monsuno”!

“Monsuno” is an entertaining animated series featuring a joint-collaboration between American and Japanese companies and literally a series that helps promote the toyline courtesy of Jakks Pacific.

While the series has the feel of “Pokemon”, what makes the series so different is that the main protagonists are older teenagers and they tend to get themselves into trouble often. The series is action-packed but also tied to their toyline, so the teenagers are often seen throwing their “Monsuno” capsules to release them.

While I’m not sure how the toys are, since the debut of the first DVD, I’ve been seeing a lot of “Monsuno” toys on the shelves, so I’m guessing the series has a dedicated audience.

“Monsuno” is also diverse as it features a Japanese (or Japanese American) protagonist with Chase Suno, Jinja is an independent, intelligent and kick-butt female protagonist and while Bren does a lot of whining, he makes up for it with his excellent computer skills. “Monsuno: Power” adds Beyal and Dax, two individuals who are also of a different race and adds to the diverse cast of the animated series so far.

My 10-year-old son is a big Pokemon fan but immediately after watching these five episodes, he was really getting into the series and wanted to check out the “Monsuno” toys immediately after watching. The whole concept of tossing your GlowBlade toy with a Monsuno coming out is quite interesting and I have no doubt that this series will appeal to children who will most likely ask their parents to purchase them the toys.

So far, the first five episodes of the series have been enjoyable but for parents who are wondering if the series is safe for their children, I would recommend it for older children.

The monsters may seem scar to younger children and the fact that Chase and friends are constantly being chased down by soldiers with weapons and they do get injured at times, while not super violent, parents may want to watch the series with their child to see if its right for them. But no doubt, I know that with these episodes alone, more than likely like my child, your children will be wanting the toys.

As for the DVD, while I prefer watching the series as a full complete season versus a five episode DVD release, I can only hope that Shout Factory does plan to release the whole series as a full set, otherwise, one will probably have to purchase several volumes just to complete a season.

Overall, “Monsuno” is a fun and entertaining animated series that has similarities to shows such as “Pokemon” or “Digimon” but a unique story that ties in with their toy merchandise line very well. An animated series that parents (who are young at heart) will enjoy watching with their children, me and my son really enjoyed “Monsuno” and look forward to the next DVD release.

“Monsuno: Power” is recommended!

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