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Boruto – Naruto the Movie (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a big fan of the “Naruto” manga/anime series, I highly recommend “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”. Action-packed, full of drama and excitement. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto/2007 Shippuden, BMP 2015. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Boruto – Naruto the Movie

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 2015

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: March 28, 2017


Originally Created by Masashi Kishimoto

Director: Hiroyuki Yamashita

Screenplay: Masashi Kishimoto

Character Design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Masashi Kishimoto, Tetsuya Nishio

Music by -yaiba-, Yasuharu Takanashi

Art by Akemi Konno, Kazuyuki Hashimoto, Kentaro Akiyama, Masanobu Nomura, Mutsuo Koseki, Naruyo Kiriyama, Satoshi Matsuoka

Art Design by Hiroto Tanaka, Masaaki Endou

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Nishio

Anime Production: Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Yuko Sanpei/Amana C. Miller as Boruto Uzumaki

Akira Ishida/Liam O’Brien as Gaara

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Uchiha

Daisuke Namikawa/Xander Mobus as Momoshiki

Hana Takeda/Laura Bailey as Kurotsuchi

Hidenori Takahashi/Max Mittelman as Konohamaru Sarutobi

Hiroki Yasumoto/Wally Wingert as Kinshiki Otsusuki

Kokoro Kikuchi/Cherami Leigh as Sarada Uchiha

Kouki Miyata/Brian Beacock as Chōjūrō

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Uzumaki

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

Ryota Takeuchi/Catero Colbert as Darui

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Mitsuki

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Showtaro Morikubo/Tom Gibis as Shikamaru Nara

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee

Atsushi Abe/Spike Spencer as Inojin Yamanaka

Hisao Egawa/Catero Colbert as Killer Bee

Kengo Kawanishi/Bryce Papenbrook as Yurui

Kensho Ono/Todd Haberkorn as Shikadai Nara

Saori Hayami/Melissa Fahn as Himawari Uzumaki

Yukari Tamura/Danielle Judovits as Tenten


Boruto: Naruto the Movie takes place in the Hidden Leaf Village with Naruto as the Seventh Hokage. The Hidden Leaf Village is planning to host the Chunin Exams to train new shinobi from the village and from their allied villages. Among the entrants are Sasuke’s daughter, Sarada, Mitsuki, an exceptionally talented yet mysterious shinobi… And Boruto, Naruto’s talented but impetuous son.

Meanwhile, Sasuke who’s been on a mission in another dimension appears before Naruto to warn of a strange impending danger. Shrouded with an evil aura, Momoshiki and Kinshiki appear and attempt to assassinate Naruto. Petrified, Boruto is shielded by Naruto, only to disappear in front of Boruto’s own eyes.


The popular manga series “Naruto” has been going strong since its debut in Shueisha back in 1999 via “Weekly Shonen Jump” magazine.   With 72 volumes published, the manga series ended in November 2014.  Meanwhile, the anime series, the first titled “Naruto” began in 2002-2007 and lasted for 220 episodes.  And would continue with “Naruto: Shippuden” which lasted from 2007-2017 with a total of 500 episodes created.

The original manga by Masashi Kishimoto is about a young ninja named Naruto Uzamaki, a ninja of the Konoha leaf village who grew up facing prejudiced within his fellow ninjas because the evil nine-tailed fox was sealed inside him. But throughout the series, we have seen how Naruto is a kind-hearted boy who has worked hard in protecting his friends and staying true to his word with the goal of someday becoming the next Hokage of the village.

In 2014, Kishimoto wrapped up the “Naruto” manga and in the final chapter (featured in volume 72), Naruto would eventually become the Hokage of the Leaf Village and he and his wife Hinata would have two children, Boruto and Himawari.

Meanwhile, Sasuke and Sakura would have a daughter named Sarada, Shikamaru Nara and Temari would have a son named Shikadai, Sai and Ino would have a son named Inojin and Choji Akimichi and Karui would have a daughter named Chocho.

Everyone has grown up and Naruto is busy as the new Hokage at the village, this causes resentment from Naruto’s son Boruto who feels that his father was never there for him or the family.

This leads us to the film “Boruto – Naruto the Movie” which featured anime production from Studio Pierrot, direction by Hiroyuki Yamashita, a screenplay by Masashi Kishimoto, music by -yaiba- and Yasuharu Takanashi and character design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Masashi Kishimoto and Tetsuya Nishio and art design by Hiroto Tanaka and Masaaki Endou.

The film begins with Boruto telling his story and him and his team partners, Sarada and Mitsuki being trained by Master Konohamaru and trying to capture a bear (or panda).   After their mission, the four go to see Naruto, the Seventh Hokage.

And as Boruto gets into a little argument with his father (for not being part of his life due to his duties as Hokage), he reminds his father about his sister and Naruto’s daughter, Himawari’s birthday and how he needs to be there.

Meanwhile a scientist comes in and introduces the group to a new invention.  Now, a jutsu can be contained in a mini-seal and put into a bracelet which gives anyone, ninja or not, the power to use a jutsu.  No chakra is even needed to use the new technology and the scientists want it used for the upcoming Chunin exam but Naruto is against it and believes a ninja should use their own skills.

Meanwhile, Boruto meets with the scientist and takes the special bracelet.

With the next Chunin exams coming up, Sarada and Mitsuki want to take the exam but Boruto, he has no desire.  He doesn’t want to be like his father and that means not wanting to be Hokage.  But for Sarada, she wants to be Hokage and tries to get Boruto to take part in the Chunin exam to let his father know he could do it.

Meanwhile, Sasuke Uchiha returns to the village and Boruto, not wanting to be anything like his father, goes to Sasuke to take him in as a pupil.  But Sasuke will only agree if Boruto can learn the Sharingan jutsu.

As the groups get ready for their Chunin Exam to see who will become a ninja, round three will be in front of a public audience.  During a battle Boruto uses the bracelet to best his opponent, but for Naruto, he is disappointed that his son resorted to such a tactic and disqualifies his son from the Chunin exam and also taking away his ninja bandana as punishment.

This leads to an argument and Boruto complains that his father is never there for him.  Meanwhile, a new evil force attacks everyone at the Chunin Exam.


VIDEO:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the film looks vibrant.  Colors look fantastic in HD and with this being a film ,there is a good amount of backgrounds and detail in the background artwork.  Picture quality is fantastic!

I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0. Both soundtracks are fantastic and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the center, front and surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Special Naruto OVA – (10:23) It’s Naruto’s big day as his inauguration as Hokage is about to take place.  But time’s getting late because Boruto and Himawari are arguing.  But what happens when Boruto upsets his little sister?
  • Clean End Credits
  • Storyboards – Featuring a gallery of the storyboards for the film
  • Art Gallery – Featuring an art gallery from the film.
  • Trailer – Featuring the Japanese trailers.

Watching “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”, I can’t help but be entertained by the fact that the film focuses on the children of the characters that many of us grew up reading.

“Naruto” having lasted so long as a manga and anime series was a big part of the lives of many people who watched “Naruto” grow from a child, to a teenager and a young adult.  Seeing how his heart and his passion would inspire so many but also seeing him determined to defeat those who threatened the village or his friends.

With Naruto, he is a student that felt he had to prove himself through hardwork and determination.

So, it’s fascinating to see how Boruto is much different than his father.  Naruto, who had always said he would become Hokage is now the new Hokage of the Leaf Village but this new role means being busy with work and unfortunately, that means no time spent with the family.

Hinata is literally taking care of both children and you can see how Boruto is upset at his father for neglecting them, but he harbors a bit of anger for his father not being there for him.

What’s even more interesting is that Boruto is not too aware of his father’s past and how he grew up, so he is not aware of the challenges or difficulties his father grew up with.

And because of his feelings towards his father, he asks his dad’s rival, Sasuke Uchiha to become his master.

But during this peaceful time, a lot has changed as well.  Scientists have developed bracelets with technology that allow anyone to harness jutsu used by ninjas and to make things worse, a new evil has decided to attack the Leaf Village during the Chunin exams (like what happened to Naruto and friends when he was much younger).

And I’ll leave it that.

This is a new beginning, a new chapter as Boruto will continue the storyline of the ninjas at the Leaf Village and while I’m not sure if “Boruto” will last for another 15 years but for this film to jumpstart the new generation and Naruto’s son, Boruto, now the focal point, needless to say, this series will be interesting, considering that he’s not like his father at all.

And if you think Boruto Uzumaki has special skills learned from his father, wait until one gets to see the included OVA which shows us how powerful Himawari Uzumaki can get.

As for the Blu-ray release, the film is vibrant and with it being a film, has more detail when it comes to art backgrounds.  Lossless soundtrack is also well-done and the voice acting for both Japanese and English dub are magnificent.

Overall, if you are a big fan of the “Naruto” manga/anime series, I highly recommend “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”.  Action-packed, full of drama and excitement.

Recommended

 

Sailor Moon R: The Movie (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

There is no doubt that “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” was ahead of its time. A classic, dramatic “Sailor Moon” film that manages to balance drama and action very well. If you are a big fan of the film, definitely own this film on Blu-ray, it’s the definitive version worth purchasing! Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1993 TOEI ANIMATION. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sailor Moon R: The Movie

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 1993

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 18, 2017


Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara

Screenplay: Sukehiro Tomita

Character Design by Kazuko Tadano

Music by Akiko Kosaka, Takanori Arisawa, Tetsuya Komuro

Art Design by Junichi Taniguchi

Animation Director: Kazuko Tadano

Anime Production: Toei Animation/TV Asahi


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hisakawa/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Emi Shinohara/Amanda C. Miller as Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Michie Tomizawa/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Rica Fukami/Stephanie Morgenstern as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Kae Araki/Sandy Fox as Chibi Usa

Keiko Han/Jill Frappier as Luna

Tohru Furuya/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

Yasuhiro Takato/Ron Rubin as Artemis

Hikaru Midorikawa/Ben Diskin as Fiore

Hiromi Nishikawa as Campanula

Mahito Ohba as Newscaster

Megumi Ogata as Mamoru Chiba (as a child)

Tomoko Maruo as Fiore (as a child)

Wakana Yamazaki as Flower Youma Gurishina

Yumi Touma as Kisenian


Long before Mamoru found his destiny with Usagi, he gave a single rose in thanks to a lonely boy who helped him recover from the crash that claimed his parents. This long-forgotten friend, Fiore, has been searching the galaxy for a flower worthy of that sweet gesture long ago. This Xenian flower is beautiful, but has a dark side- it has the power to take over planets! To make matters worse, the strange plant is tied to an asteroid hurling towards Earth! Faced with an enemy blooming out of control, It’s up to Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians to band together, stop the impending destruction and save Mamoru!


Back in 1991, mangaka Naoko Takeuchi would create her shojo manga series “Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon”.

Serialized in “Nakayoshi” (from 1991-1997) with a total of 18 tankobon (graphic novel) versions published, the series would reach enormous popularity with over 35 million copies sold worldwide and the release of the anime series would further the popularity worldwide with 200 episodes created (1992-1997), three animated films, a live-action TV series, musicals, video games and more.

In 2016, Viz Media showcased “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” at Anime Expo featuring a new English dub, uncut for the first time in American theaters.

The original film was released in theaters back in 1993 and was directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara and written by Sukehiro Tomita and takes place after the original “Sailor Moon R” series.

And now, “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

The film begins with Usagi, Mamoru, Chiba-Usa and friends taking a trip to the Jindai Botanical Garden.

Meanwhile, we see a flashback of a young Mamoru giving a rose to a mysterious boy and the boy promising to return to bring Mamoru many flowers.

As Mamoru steps outside after the other Sailor Senshi are caught spying on the two as they are about to kiss, the mysterious boy, now a man comes to give Mamoru flowers and holds his hand.

Usagi sees the man’s affections towards Mamoru and Usagi tells him that Mamoru is her boyfriend and the mysterious man knocks her down and vows that no one will prevent him from keeping his promise and he disappears.

As the Sailor Senshi are talking among others, they talk about how Mamoru is not only popular with the women but also probably towards men.  Meanwhile, a ball of light is seen floating and buries itself to the ground and a flower grows.

The following morning, Rei meanwhile senses an evil aura and she and the other Sailor Senshi follow Rei and find many of the local city people all fallen to the ground.  When they go to check on them, the people awaken (like zombies) with plants controlling them and they try to attack them.

They find that the person responsible is a flower monster named Glycina and it drains energy from people. As the Sailor Senshi tries to fight her, Fiore appears and uses a flower called Xenian to hurt them.

As Mamoru shoes up to talk to Fiore and prevent him from fighting the Sailor Senshis, he learns that the Xenian is controlling his mind.  As Fiore tries to attack Usagi, Mamoru saves her just in time but is hurt.  Fiore manages to take the injured Mamoru away from Earth to an asteroid and plans to revive him in a crystal.

What is this connection between Fiore and Mamoru?  And can Usagi and friends save Mamoru and defeat Fiore?  And why is Fiore so angry?


VIDEO:

“Sailor Moon R: The Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition and one must remember that this is an old school anime film and created with cels not digitally as anime is made today.  And handling of anime series were done differently back then and so you may see some occasional spotting in certain frames.

With that being said, this HD version is no doubt the best version I have seen of this film to date.  Having had the original Pioneer DVD, this Blu-ray release from Viz Media is much better in terms of color vibrance and sharpness.  I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sailor Moon R: The Movie” is presented in Japanese and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both soundtracks are done quite well and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the front channels.  It’s important to note that this animated film on Blu-ray features the current cast featured on the Viz Media releases and not the English dub from the 2000 Pioneer DVD release.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sailor Moon R: The Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Make Up! Sailor Guardians Featurette – (16:32) A special feature about the Sailor Guardians, a recap that was shown originally before the animated film in Japan in theaters (presented in Japanese and English).
  • Theatrical Intro with English Cast – (10:46) Featuring the English dub voice talent: Stephanie Sheh, Robbie Daymond and Ben Diskin being interviewed about the film.
  • 2017 Los Angeles Premiere – (34:29) Featuring a post-panel with Voice Director – Suzanne Goldish, the English voice talent of “Sailor Moon R” (from the Los Angeles Premiere) and cosplayers.
  • Gallery – “Sailor Moon R” image gallery
  • Trailer – “Sailor Moon R” theatrical trailer

Back in 1993, “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” was released in Japanese theaters and for many fans of the animated series, this was anticipated holiday movie release during the Christmas time in Japan.

At the time, Toei Animation really did a lot of promotion for the film, going so far to have a special “Sailor Moon and X’mas” event in Ginza limited to several hundred people.

One of the earlier personal anime-driven websites in the early ’90s owned by Hitoshi Doi, said of the movie, “It was a great movie.  Maybe my favorite movie of all time”.

Meanwhile, on anime BBS, there was a lot of discussion about the content and possible homosexual storyline about love between two boys.  A topic that was debated at the time and while not super controversial, it was enough for Pioneer Entertainment to release it in 1999 on VHS edited and in Japanese only with English subtitles.

But for the bilingual DVD release back in 2000, Pioneer Entertainment released it uncut but also an edited version of the VHS dub as it was censored for content.

Needless to say, with the release of “Sailor Moon R: The Movie”, the goal was to release this film, with the new English voice cast that have been used for Viz releases.  But most importantly, to feature a storyline that is not censored but to accept what the original Japanese story had been about and not changing the story to reflect that two young male characters that do care about each other.

So, with the changing of the times, we have a new Blu-ray release of “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” that gets things right by not deviating from the story’s original intention.

I actually wrote back when the original DVD was released, “The movie is actually pretty good.  Touching in some areas and it’ll maybe make you want to cry.  When people buy this, they may think they can just buy this for their kids but if you want to explain to your children about homosexuality references and so forth, then go ahead and buy it.”

Watching this film nearly 25-years later and 17-years after the DVD was released, I look back and see Hitoshi Doi’s 1993 post and in Japan, they don’t make any references about two boys liking each other, in fact, fans loved it because of its dramatic storyline of sacrifice and love.  In addition to the action sequences involved as well.

It’s a shame that back then, companies had to censor the film and it was unfortunate, that I felt the need to warn parents because of the references.  Things have changed so much in terms of what can be accepted in film or pop culture in terms of references to LGBT.  If anything, there is no warning that should be needed.  Children watching this may think friendship, while its the parents who may be doing most of the questioning, hopefully people can watch this film and not make such a big deal of the references made between Mamoru and Fiore.

The story revolves around a young Mamoru and a boy named Fiore.  Mamoru gives Fiore a rose and a young Fiore made a promise to bring a flower back to Mamoru.  So, Fiore made it his life duty to fulfill that promise by searching for a flower across the galaxy just for Mamoru.

And when Fiore comes back as an adult to Mamoru to give him the flower he had found and showing his true affections that he has long had for Mamoru, Usagi tells Fiore that Mamoru is her boyfriend.

Needless to say, that doesn’t suit well for Fiore and to make things worse, since Fiore is possessed by the Xenian flower, he uses the power of the flower-monster Glycina to feed on people’s energy and uses it against Sailor Moon and friends.

But it’s a battle for Mamoru’s affections…who will win?  Usagi or Fiore?

No doubt the ending is quite predictable but the film features a strong dramatic storyline that shows how deep Usagi’s love for Mamoru and her friends.  And how far she will go to sacrifice her life for those who are important to her.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” looks very good in HD.  One must remember that this is an old school anime film and created with cels not digitally as anime is made today.  And handling of anime series were done differently back then and so you may see some occasional spotting in certain frames.  But colors and sharpness are wonderful and this is the best version I have seen of the film to date.

And for lossless audio, we get a lossless audio stereo track that sounds great in HD!

And this release also comes with the original Make Up! Sailor Guardians Featurette, which was shown prior to the film’s screening in Japan, to get fans and also non-fans up to speed about each character and where the story is heading at that point of time. Plus, you get interviews with the English cast and the post-screeening of the film panel shown at the film premiere in Los Angeles.

Overall, there is no doubt that “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” was ahead of its time. A classic, dramatic “Sailor Moon” film that manages to balance drama and action very well.  If you are a big fan of the film, definitely own this film on Blu-ray, it’s the definitive version worth purchasing!

Recommended!

Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Entertaining and quite enjoyable, if you are a fan of Sailor Moon and friends, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” is definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © Naoko Takeuchi / PNP / KODANSHA / TOEI ANIMATION. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2

DURATION: Episodes 15-26 (276 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 28, 2017


Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Chiaki Kon

Series Composition: Yuji Kobayashi

Character Design by Akira Takahashi

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Art Design by Takashi Kurahashi

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Rina Satou/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Ami Koshimizu/Amanda C. Miller as Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter

Hisako Kanemoto/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Shizuka Itou/Cherami Leigh as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Sayaka Ohara/Veronica Taylor as Michiru Kaiō/Sailor Neptune

Kenji Nojima/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

Misato Fukuen/Sandy Fox as Chibi-usa/Sailor Chibi Moon

Ryou Hirohashi/Michelle Ruff as Luna

Youhei Oobayashi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Artemis

Shoko Nakagawa/Debi Derryberry as Diana


The next set in the brand new anime series, Sailor Moon Crystal!

Usagi Tsukino is a little clumsy and a crybaby, but she’s also one spirited eighth grader. One day she meets Luna, a black cat with a crescent moon mark on her forehead, and transforms into the pretty guardian of love and justice in a sailor suit, Sailor Moon! As a chosen guardian of justice, Usagi apparently has a mission to protect a princess, and to find her fellow Guardians and the phantom Silver Crystal. Meanwhile, Queen Beryl of the Dark Kingdom sends her subordinates to the town where Usagi lives. They cause strange events to occur there, all in an effort to acquire the tremendously powerful Silver Crystal… Can Sailor Moon and the other Guardians successfully find the phantom crystal, and protect the princess…!?


Back in 1991, mangaka Naoko Takeuchi would create her shojo manga series “Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon”.

Serialized in “Nakayoshi” (from 1991-1997) with a total of 18 tankobon (graphic novel) versions published, the series would reach enormous popularity with over 35 million copies sold worldwide and the release of the anime series would further the popularity worldwide with 200 episodes created (1992-1997), three animated films, a live-action TV series, musicals, video games and more.

In 2014, Toei Animation did a reboot of the anime series titled “Sailor Moon Crystal” to celebrate the 20th Anniversary but instead of releasing the anime on television, the series was released online on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

The anime series would feature voice actress Kotono Mitsuichi reprising her role as Sailor Moon in Japan while in America, the series would feature an all new English cast.

There first arc titled “Dark Kingdom” was featured in episodes 1-14, while the second arc “Black Moon” is featured in episodes 15-26.  A third season “Death Busters” aired in Japan on April 2016 and a sequel/fourth season was announced in January 2017.

And now the second arc (“Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2”) will be released on Blu-ray/DVD as a normal and a limited edition courtesy of Viz Media.

In the second arc, while Usagi and Mamoru are alone, a pink-haired girl falls from the sky.  She immediately points a gun towards Usagi and demands that Usagi give her the Legendary Silver crystal.

As Mamoru goes to the pink-haired girl, he finds out it is a fake gun and because her name is also Usagi, she is called “Chibi-usa”.  When they take Chibi-usa back to Usagi’s home, she immediately hypnotizes Usagi’s parents and they allow her to stay with them.

As for the others, Rei and Minako are looking into incidents of people being abducted and spontaneously combusting.

Meanwhile, the Black Moon Clan is after the Legendary Silver Crystal and with the Spectre Sisters, Rubeus and Prince Demande after the Crystal, they start to go after each of the Sailor Senshi’s and try to kidnap them in order to lure Sailor Moon.

But who can Usagi and Mamoru turn to for help?  Perhaps King Endymion and Neo Queen Serenity?


VIDEO:

“Sailor Moon Crystal” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the animation from Toei Animation is vibrant and colorful.

While the first series of “Sailor Moon Crystal” received a lot of flack with its earlier animation (which had to be redone for the Blu-ray and DVD release), this second series features much better character design and animation, as well as background art.  Better shadowing and for the most part, the series looks much better!

Picture quality is great and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sailor Moon Crystal” is presented in Japanese and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both soundtracks are done quite well and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Interview with the band Momoiro Clover Z Part 2 – (9:58) Featuring footage from Momoiro Clover Z’s appearance at Anime Expo and an interview with the group about their feelings of “Sailor Moon Crystal” and the characters.
  • Art Gallery
  • Clean Opening
  • Clean Ending

As a person who watched the anime series as it was airing in Japan and also reviewing it when the DVD’s were first released in the United States, “Sailor Moon Crystal” is no doubt an entertaining, action-packed, dramatic reboot without the filler episodes.

Back in the ’90s and even with today’s popular anime adaptation of successful manga, filler episodes are important to not just to allow for a mangaka to continue their work on a manga series and further the story, so the manga doesn’t catch up too quickly.

The caveat, as some have seen for series such as “Dragon Ball Z”, “Bleach”, “Naruto” and even “One Piece”, filler episodes can drag on for a long time.  But for companies banking on the successful anime to produce merchandise for years, filler episodes have become part of anime culture.

The same was the case with the original “Sailor Moon” series, as much was focused on to give various members their own identity through many character building episodes, establishing friendships, quarrels and such, and adding so many episodes that in the process, not only was there a ton of merchandising but the character was popular enough to get fans or parents to purchase the merchandise for their daughters.

In America, fans were purchasing soundtracks and video games for the 3DO and the original PSX back in the ’90s and every year since Sailor Moon appeared in Japan, conventions have always had someone sporting an outfit from the series.  It was a popular series and eventually, “Sailor Moon” was released in America.  So popular that even American band Barenaked Ladies featured the mention of “Sailor Moon” in their 1998 hit song “One Week”.

So, “Sailor Moon Crystal” as an ONA (Original Net Animation) versus being shown on television would seem like a big surprise but there was no doubt that Toei Animation was already banking on the series popularity that people would turn into the series online and for the most part, their gamble paid off as people were watching, people responded (especially about the animation in the first arc) and while opinion was mixed, “Sailor Moon” merchandise not just for children but also for adults have become popular in Japan.

But with “Sailor Moon Crystal”, no filler, it’s a series straight-up trying to complete various arcs within 12-14 episodes.  No long seasons and as I grow less patient with anime filler episodes, so thrilled that “Sailor Moon Crystal” arcs manages to achieve completion quickly and not test my or others who are low on patience.

And here we are with the “Black Moon Arc”, the second series featuring episodes 15-26.  Now featuring better character designs and animation, the storyline now introduces Chibi-Usa, as well as an appearance of Sailor Pluto.

While there are not too much of an emphasis on the other Sailor Senshi, there are a few episodes where we get to see each character put up a fight against the servants of Black Moon.

This latest arc primarily focuses on Chibi-Usa and the connection she has with Usagi and Mamoru and how she entered the present-time and left the future and what had happen to everyone, but also the origins of the Black Moon.

There is no doubt an emphasis on emotional drama especially between Usagi and Mamoru but also the two and their relationship with Chibi-Usa but this latest features a focus on the emotional ties that bond these three forever.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is no doubt better with better shading and detail, while colors are vibrant and the series looks great in HD, part of the benefit with watching this series on Blu-ray is to find out how wonderful the acting is for both the Japanese and English dub.

It was awesome to have Kotono Mitsuishi return to voice Usagi/Sailor Moon for the Japanese dialogue and the Japanese voice acting by everyone else is great.  But with the English dub, I just felt that Stephanie Sheh did an amazing job as Usagi.  Both voice actresses were able to nail the emotional scenes with efficacy and also big kudos to Sandy Fox as Chibi-Usa.

Also on the Blu-ray release, the included interview with Momoiro Clover Z was also fantastic and it was great to see them discuss Sailor Moon and their opinion of the characters and hearing about their favorite character in the series.

Overall, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” features the entire “Black Moon Arc” and features a great balance of humor, drama and action.  The voice acting in Japanese and the English dub was superb and the animation is much better.

Entertaining and quite enjoyable, if you are a fan of Sailor Moon and friends, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” is definitely recommended!

 

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

October 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who grew up watching “Eureka Seven” or for those wanting to watch this classic sci-fi mecha anime series in completion, now you can with “Eureka Seven: The Complete Series”. A fantastic anime series that I will forever cherish and a deep and entertaining sci-fi anime series that I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2005-2006 BONES. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Eureka Seven: The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: (Episodes 1-50) 1250 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition (4×3 SD Remaster), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Funimation

RATING: TV 14

Release Date: August 30, 2016


Series Director: Tomoki Kyoda

Series Composition by Dai Sato

Music by Naoki Sato

Character Design by Kenichi Yoshida

Art Director: Atsushi Morikawa, Kazuo Nagai

Chief Animation Director: Kenichi Yoshida

Anime Production: BONES


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Nazuka/Stephanie Sheh as Eureka

Keiji Fujiwara/Crispin Freeman as Holland

Michiko Neya/Kate Higgins as Talho Yuki

Yuko Sanpei/Johnny Yong Bosch as Renton Thurston

Akio Nakamura/Kirk Thornton as Matthieu

Ami Koshimizu/Kari Wahlgren as Anemone

Aya Hisakawa/Melissa Fahn as Ray

Eriko Kigawa/Peggy O’Neal as Maeter

Fumie Mizusawa/Jessica Straus as Gidget/Linck

Juurouta Kosugi/Patrick Seitz as Charles Beams

Kouji Tsujitani/Kim Strauss as Dewey Novac

Mamoru Miyano/Steve Staley as Moondoggie

Mayumi Asano/Megan Hollingshead as Hilda

Michiko Neya/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Maurice

Rikiya Koyama/Jamieson K. Price as Norb

Shigenori Yamazaki/Peter Doyle as Dominic Sorel

Tamio Ohki/Kyle Hebert as Ken-Goh

Tarô Yamaguchi/Tony Oliver as Hap

Yasunori Matsumoto/Doug Stone as Stoner


Relive the classic era of anime with the studio that brought you Escaflowne, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Wolf’s Rain. Returning to the spotlight after almost a decade, Eureka Seven – the greatest anime love story ever told – makes its long-awaited arrival on Blu-ray!

Renton is a teenager trapped working as a mechanic in a backwater town. He dreams of joining up with a daredevil group of pilots known as Gekkostate and following in his father’s heroic footsteps.

When a mysterious beauty named Eureka shows up asking for a tune-up, Renton soon finds himself drawn into a high-flying mecha dogfight that makes him a target of the military. When the dust settles on the spectacular battle, Renton is invited to join Gekkostate, but he soon discovers that even a dream come true has a dark side.


“Eureka Seven”, the popular mecha anime TV series from Bones has spawned video games, novels, movies and also a manga series which ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s “Monthly Shonen Ace” from 2005-2006 with a total of six graphic novels released.  And a sequel to the anime series titled “Eureka Seven: AO” would air on television in 2012-2013 (and would focus on the character, Ao Thurston).

As the anime series was a big hit in the US airing on the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” and it was a series that introduced many people to anime.

And now this anime sci-fi classic will be released as a complete collection on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

“Eureka Seven” revolves around a boy named Renton Thurston, a young 14-year-old who is brash and tends to enjoy living for the moment.  His hobby is grabbing his lift board (somewhat like a surf or skateboard but is used for floating in the air) and just riding it and having fun.  Renton, also happens to be the son of the late military hero Adroc Thurston and the grandson of famous scientist Axel Thurston.  But unlike them, Renton is not into studying nor does he have any career ambitions, he’s just a boy who idolizes Ray-Out Magazine’s Holland Novak, a professional lift board rider.

One day, a mecha (an LFO known as Nirvash typeZERO – the world’s first humanoid mobile machine – Light Finding Operation) crashes near his home and inside it comes out a girl who piloted it.  While repairs are being done on the LFO, Renton becomes happy when the girl tells him that she knows Holland (Renton’s lift board idol) and immediately, Renton becomes happy but the more he sees this girl, he starts to fall for her.

The military (U.F. Force) then disrupts their meeting as they try to get the girl and the two quickly escape on the LFO together.   While being pursued, somehow the two managed to create “The Seventh Swell” and grabs the attention of Holland and his crew (known as The Gekko State).  Can Renton be the source of hidden power of the Nirvash?

Meanwhile, we learn from the military why they are pursuing Eureka and that she and the Nirvash were part of a major military secret project that was stolen by Holland and now they want her back.  Meanwhile, the crew wonder if Renton is the real deal of what happened with the Nirvash or was it freak situation that just happened.  As for Renton, he’s just happy to be part of a group that Holland belongs to and most of all, to be near Eureka.

While the bulk of the main storyline of the first half of the manga series features The Gekko State trying to hide from the military or getting into battles with each other, a third party, an alien race known as the Coralians have reappeared and for some reason, they are also going after Eureka.

Outside of the storyline involving the Gekko State and UF Force, the other primary storyline is Renton and Eureka’s storyline as two people who don’t understand their emotions but they are attracted to each other.  The other storyline focuses on the Novak brothers as we see Holland doing what he can to protect his team but trying to calm his hatred towards his brother Dewey, and vice-versa as Dewey tries to put his plan to rule UF Force and using anemone (a girl who looks similar to Eureka but are quite different) to destroy Gekko State and those who will stand in his way.


The main characters of the series are:

Renton Thurston – The main protagonist.  A 14-year-old who loves to ride a lift board and a boy who feels that he can never live up to his father’s legacy.  He idolizes Holland, has a crush on Eureka and will do whatever he can to help her (including becoming a member of Gekko State).

Eureka – An unusual young woman with blue hair.  She is the pilot of the mecha Nirvash typeZERO.  She doesn’t comprehend these emotions she has when she’s around Renton.  She is also the adoptive mother of three young kids: Maurice, Maeter and Linck.  She and Holland are the primary pilots of Gekko State.

Holland Novak – The popular lift boarder but also the leader of the Gekko State.  He tries to analyze Renton and wonder if he is the person behind the secret power of the Nirvash typeZERO.  Holland is a former member of the SOF, a military unit but when he was ask by Norb to protect Eureka, he took her and the Nirvash from the military to protect her.  Now he is a wanted man.  Meanwhile, he has a deep hatred towards his brother Dewey.  Holland pilots the LFO known as Terminus typeR909.

Yuki Taiho – A friend of Holland and Dewey when they were in the military.  Yuki now pilots the Gekko and is a close confidant of Holland.

Gekko State – A group of lift riders and friends who support Novak’s goal.  Other members include Matthieu, Hilda, Stoner, Ken-Goh, Mischa, Gonzy, Jobs, Woz, Hap, Gidget and Moondoggie.  Also, joining the team are three orphans: Maurice, Maeter and Linck.

Colonel Dewey Novak – The main antagonist who takes control of the U.F. Force and has a deep hatred towards his brother Holland and the Coralians.   His greatest asset is Anemone who is loyal to him.

Anemone – A person who resembles Eureka but belongs to Dewey of the U.F. Force.  She can sense Eureka and she loves to eat sweet things.  She is the pilot of Nirvash LFO, typeTheEND.

Lieutenant Dominic Sorel – A young lieutenant assigned to tend to Anemone’s needs and works for Col. Dewey Novak.  Although a high ranking officer of the U.F. Force, he seems to have some differences with his superior which he keeps to himself.

The Coralians – Eureka Seven takes place 10,000 years after humanity left for space after the arrival of the aliens known as Scub Coral.  Because they merged with the planet, humans were forced to leave the planet and moved into a planet known as Land of Kanan which parts of the land are occupied by the Scrub Coral.  The Coralians are manifestations that either ravage a land, attack humans (after they have been attacked) or a human-form of Coralian who try to learn from humanity.


VIDEO:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080i High Definition (SD Remaster). It’s important to note that this is an older anime series from 2005-2006 and was aired in standard format.  Overall, picture quality is good for the overall animation but there is slight softness and this series was released before anime companies would focus in creating anime in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  The series did not receive a Funimation 5.1 treatment, considering the series was released many years ago by Bandai Visual.  But for the most part, dialogue in Japanese and English is crystal clear and English subtitles are clear and legible.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” features the following special features:

NOTE: Japanese audio commentary comes with English subtitles

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton) and Kaori Nazuka (Eureka).
  • Episode 7 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Mamoru Miyano (Moondoggie).
  • Episode 13 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Shigenori Yamazaki (Dominic)
  • Episode 15 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Akio Nakamura (Matthieu) and Mayumi Asano (Hilda).
  • Episode 20 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Kenji Fujiwara (Holland).
  • Episode 26 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kenichi Yoshida (character designer) and Masayuki Miyaji (storyboard artist).
  • Episode 27 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Jurota Kosugi (Charles) and Aya Hisakawa (Ray)
  • Episode 32 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Ami Koshimizu (Anemone).
  • Episode 36 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Eriko Kigawa (Maeter) and Fumie Mizusawa (Gidget)
  • Episode 39 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Yasunri Matsumoto (Stoner) and Taro Yamaguchi (Hap)
  • Episode 43 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Kenji Tsujitani (Dewey).
  • Episode 50 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Kazuhiro Wakabayashi (sound director) and Tomoki Kyoda (director)
  • Yuko Sanpei (Renton) and Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) Interviews Part 1
  • Yuko Sanpei (Renton) and Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) Interviews Part 2
  • Interview with Stephanie Sheh (Eureka)
  • Interview with Johnny Yong Bosch (Renton)
  • Keiji Fujiwara (Holland) and Michiko Neya (Talho) Interviews Part 1
  • Keiji Fujiwara (Holland) and Michiko Neya (Talho) Interviews Part 2
  • Keiji Fujiwara (Holland) and Michiko Neya (Talho) Interviews Part 3
  • Interview with Crispin Freeman (Holland) Part 1
  • Interview with Crispin Freeman (Holland) Part 2
  • Interview with Crispin Freeman (Holland) Part 3
  • Kate Higgins (Talho)
  • Episode 50 (Special Textless Version)
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs 1-3
  • U.S. Trailer
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” comes with a slipcover.


Over a decade ago, “Eureka Seven” made its debut on Japanese television.

Not long after, the series would air in America on Adult Swim and for many, it gave more recent anime fans a glimpse of a sci-fi mecha anime series with a love story (while others have grown up with watching it in various “Gundam” series and “Macross”).

“Eureka Seven” is an awesome series.  From when it starts out, I really enjoyed the underdog theme going for it with Renton being this unlikely hero but turning out to be a young kid who is really turning out to be more than anyone has expected.

Eureka is also an interesting character as she is quite mysterious and the whole Gekko State team is pretty cool and for the most part, cool characters and interesting antagonists.  Throw in the alien Coralians and you have that secondary evil that made you wonder how this series will progress.

For those not familiar with “Eureka Seven”, I think those who have followed the “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Gurren Lagann” series will definitely find “Eureka Seven” to be an entertaining series.

You get a large group of characters but a storyline focusing on the underdog who turns out to be quite the hero but yet has the low self esteem issue and tends to doubt himself.  Sure, it’s a prevailing theme with many mecha series but in this case, where Gundam focuses on survival and “Gurren Lagann” focuses on eradicating the evil on the planet, “Eureka Seven” so far has been a storyline featuring a band of renegades with stolen military technology and trying to avoid being detected by the military.

Problem is, both sides have similar technology and it’s all about who will be the last person standing, in this case…it’s either Gekko State or the UF Forces.

And as the series progresses, things really become dramatic as the Gekko State faces several tragedies and the group taking part in a major battle.  And of course, Renton and Eureka’s up-and-down friendship/relationship and much more.

As for the anime series on Blu-ray, I have to emphasize that this is an older anime series released in 2005-2006, so picture quality is featured in 4:3 standard format and 1080i, not 1080p.   With that being said, while the series is not vibrant as one would usually see in a newer anime series on Blu-ray, the upscale is still very good.  Character designs, art backgrounds and everything else about the series looks very good on Blu-ray. There is a slight softness but that can be expected with an anime TV series.

As for the audio, it’s presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and for the most part, dialogue, music and special effects are crystal clear through the front channels.

And as for special features, you get a ton of audio commentary from the Japanese voice actors (with English subtitles) and also interviews with both Japanese and English dub voice cast.

Overall, for those who grew up watching “Eureka Seven” or for those wanting to watch this classic sci-fi mecha anime series in completion, now you can with “Eureka Seven: The Complete Series”.  A fantastic anime series that I will forever cherish and a deep and entertaining sci-fi anime series that I highly recommend!

Sailor Moon R: Season 2 – Set One (A J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

November 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

sailormoon-r

For those who are new to the “Sailor Moon R” animated series and never owned the DVD releases before, then I can easily recommend “Sailor Moon R” (moreso for the Blu-ray version than the DVD release for the better picture and audio quality). A classic anime series that continues the sailor soldiers battle against evil and a new person that comes into Usagi’s life, definitely give “Sailor Moon R: Season Two – Set One” a chance!

Image courtesy of © Naoko Takeuchi/PNP, Toei Animation Film. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Sailor Moon R: Season 2 – Set One

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 1992

DURATION: (Episodes 47-68) 530 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English subtitles

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: July 14, 2015


Originally created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Junichi Sato, Kunihiko Ikuhara

Script by Katsuyuki Sumisawa, Megumi Sugihara, Shigeru Yanagawa, Sukehiro Tomita

Storyboard by Junichi Sato

Music by Kazuo Satou, Takanori Arisawa, Tetsuya Komoro

Character Design by Kazuko Tadano

Art Director: Junichi Tanijuchi

Art Design by Tadao Kubota, Takamura Mukuo

Produced by Iriya Azuma, Kenji Oota, Munehisa Higuchi


Voiced by:

Aya Hisakawa/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Emi Shinohara/Amanda C. Miller as Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Princess Serenity/Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Michie Tomizawa/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Rica Fukami/Cherami Leigh as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Keiko Han/Michelle Ruff as Luna

Mika Doi as Queen Serenity

Tohru Furuya/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen/Prince Endymion

Yasuhiro Takato/Johnny Yong Bosch as Artemis


After their epic battle, the Sailor Guardians are called back to action when some new and a powerful enemies appear! Ail and An are alien siblings bound to the mysterious energy-devouring Makai Tree. And the Black Moon Clan, led by Prince Demande, has the power to destroy all of future Crystal Tokyo! Things get complicated when a mysterious pink-haired girl falls from the sky, demands the Legendary Silver Crystal, and claims Mamoru for her own! Could there also be a new Sailor Guardian?


The second season of “Sailor Moon” has arrived on Blu-ray (and DVD) and is titled “Sailor Moon R”.

After the battle with the Dark Kingdom, Usagi and the Sailor Soldiers are back to their normal selves with no recollection of each other and memories forgotten.  But when a new evil appears in the form of Ail and Ann, Usagi and her friends must come together once again to face off against the new evil that has come to fight them.

Meanwhile, what happens when Usagi confront the Moonlight Knight?  And also, who is this small girl with bright pink that has fallen from the sky and has moved into the home of Usagi?

Find out in “Sailor Moon R: Season 2 – Set One” now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

What is “Sailor Moon”?

Considered as one of the most successful anime franchise in Japan, “Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon” was a manga and anime series that captivated fans worldwide.

Created by mangaka Naoko Takeuchi, the manga was serialized in Nakayoshi from 1991-1997, received 18 tankobon volumes and ran for 200 episodes on TV Asahi from 1992-1997.  Even receiving an English dubbed adaptation during the mid-90s.

The series would spawn three animated films, musicals, video games, toys, clothing and more!  And to this day, the popularity of “Sailor Moon” continues with a new generation of fans.

With a new series titled “Sailor Moon Crystal” released in Japan and licensed for streaming in the USA by Viz Media on Hulu and Neon Alley in 2014, to make sure voice acting is consistent in the new series, the original series was redubbed in English by the current cast.

And to help promote the new series, Viz Media has released the original first 23 episodes of season one on Blu-ray!

The series revolves around  a Juban Middle School teenager named Usagi Tsukino.  A girl who is not too smart, often seen crying and loves eating.  One day, she encounters a black cat with a crescent-shaped symbol on its forehead.  Meanwhile, there is talk around town of a masked vigilante named Sailor V stopping criminals and becoming popular thanks to the media exposure.

But one day, as she comes into contact with the black cat, the cat begins to talk and introduce herself as Luna.  Luna gives Usagi a brooch which allows her to transform into Sailor Moon, whenever she is in danger.

And as Usagi starts to meet other Sailor Soldiers such as the studious and intelligent Ami Mizuno (Sailor Mercury), the Shinto priestess Rei Hino (Sailor Mars), the strong and tall Makoto Kino (Sailor Jupiter) and the singer Minako Aino (Sailor Venus) along with the mysterious Tuxedo Mask, together they fight any evil that comes their way.

In the second season titled “Sailor Moon R”, a new evil has come to shake things up with the Sailor Soldiers.  Meanwhile, who is the mysterious young girl with pink hair that has fallen from the sky?


The main characters of “Sailor Moon R: Season Two – Set One″ are:

  • Sailor Moon/Usagi Tsukino – The main protagonist. A teenager attending Juban Middle School who is clumsy, not-too-smart, often crying and often hungry.  But she is a person that has a lot of love, compassion and understanding towards people and animals.  She can transform into Sailor Moon, a soldier of love and justice.
  • Tuxedo Mask/Mamoru Chiba – A student at Usagi’s school, he often teases her and drives her mad.  He is a mysterious persona known as Tuxedo Mask and often aids Sailor Moon and the other Sailor senshi.
  • Sailor Mercury/Ami Mizuno –Very intelligent and always studying.  Ami can transform into Sailor Mercury, Soldier of Water and Wisdom.  Appears in episode 8.
  • Sailor Mars/Rei Hino – Rei is a miko (shrine maiden) and works as a Shinto priestess.  She has the power of precognition and uses Shinto scrolls to nullify evil.  Sailor Moon is the Soldier of Fire and Passion.  She is often arguing with Usagi.  Appears in episode 10.
  • Sailor Venus/Minako Aino – A Sailor Soldier known as Sailor V.  She dreams of becoming a famous singer and idol.  Similar to Usagi who has Luna, Minako has a white cat named Artemis.
  • Luna – A black cat in Earth form and companion to Usagi. A former advisor and servant to Queen Serenity, she was sent to Earth to look after the Sailor Soldiers.  She is often giving Usagi advice.
  • Artemis – A white cat in Earth form and companion to Minako.  He cares deeply for Luna.
  • Chibiusa – The future daughter of Neo-Queen Serenity and King Endymion in the 30th century.

 


VIDEO & AUDIO

It’s important to note that if you want better picture quality, you will definitely want to watch this series on Blu-ray for better picture quality.

As for the DVD release, “Sailor Moon” is presented in its original size ratio of 4:3 standard definition.  It’s important to note that “Sailor Moon” did not receive the same expensive remastering and restoration as “Ranma 1/2” or “Dragon Ball Z”. So, the series does show its age, moreso on DVD.

With that being said, I watched this series when it first came out in Japan and was distributed via Japanese rental video stores via the VHS years and watched the series when it was presented in bad quality video back then and now want to watching the series again, while the series does exhibit its age and wear, it’s probably the best that this series will look.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features that came with “Sailor Moon R: Season 2 – Set One”.

EXTRAS:

“Sailor Moon R: Season 2 – Set One” comes with a slipcover.


During my college years, I was a fan of the “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon” series.  I watched the original series in Japanese at the time and along with “Dragon Ball Z” and “Dragon Ball GT”, it was one of the few anime series I was watching from Japan during a time when Japanese video rental stores were everywhere in California.

Watching these episodes in not the greatest quality, may it be in Japanese or English fan subtitled, it didn’t matter as I was able to watch the popular hit anime series in America (as a release of the series on video seemed as it was never going to happen in the early ’90s).

I purchased the anime soundtrack to “Sailor Moon R” at the time.  Attended the very early anime conventions in America, in which you would see your few Sailor Moon cosplayers during the early ’90s and I can easily remember playing the “Sailor Moon S” fighting game on the 3DO with a few people who have gone on to be big names in the anime industry and then purchasing “Sailor Moon Super S” for nearly a hundred bucks on PlayStation.

And of course, remembering the U.S. English dub release of “Sailor Moon”.  Reading the Sailor Moon manga series from the old Mixx Zine years and purchasing the Japanese soundtracks of “Sailor Moon”.

So, in some ways, I can easily say that watching “Sailor Moon” was part of young life and possibly my first foray into watching an anime series that featured a cast primarily of strong female characters.

While “Sailor Moon S” will always be my favorite series of all “Sailor Moon” series for its more darker tone, I did enjoy the first season for its lighthearted humor and like all character-building seasons and with the release of “Sailor Moon R” from Viz Media on Blu-ray and DVD, I can say that I enjoyed the series primarily as it focuses on the mysterious girl from the future, Chibiusa.

While I don’t want to get too technical with the series until the second set for “Sailor  Moon R” is released, because I don’t wan to spoil anyone who hasn’t watched the series just yet.  But it’s an interesting take on time trial and how Chibiusa handles herself around Usagi and Mamoru.

With that being said, the series retains its consistency with the first season as the Sailor Soldiers take on various forms of evil in each episode.  The humor and style of the series is carried over from the first season, but the series takes an interesting direction as Mamoru now knows who Usagi is and the two become closer, while a small girl from the future definitely changes Usagi’s life for good.

As for the DVD release, as mentioned, if you want the better quality of the series, the Blu-ray release is the way to go.  But as for the DVD, the series looks good on DVD but the age of the series does show.  The series did not receive the same expensive restoration and remastering as “Ranma 1/2” or “Dragon Ball Z”, so if you owned the older DVD’s, there is no reason to upgrade to this DVD (unless you prefer the newer English voice dub), while I do recommend upgrading to Blu-ray, especially as the Viz Media releases contain more episodes (and are much cheaper than the older DVD releases).

Unfortunately, there are no special features included on this set as well.

Overall, for those who are new to the “Sailor Moon R” animated series and never owned the DVD releases before, then I can easily recommend “Sailor Moon R” (moreso for the Blu-ray version than the DVD release for the better picture and audio quality).  A classic anime series that continues the sailor soldiers battle against evil and a new person that comes into Usagi’s life, definitely give “Sailor Moon R: Season Two – Set One” a chance!

Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

sailormoon-a

“Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One” is a blessing for fans who have wanted and waited for a complete “Sailor Moon” release in the United States.  The fact that 23-episodes are on Blu-ray is a great value compared to the four-episode releases in the past.  But for those who are hardcore about picture quality, just know that these episodes on Blu-ray are upscaled and received extensive DNR.

Image courtesy of © Naoko Takeuchi/PNP, Toei Animation Film. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 1992-1993

DURATION: Episode 1-23 (530 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: November 11, 2014


Originally created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Junichi Sato, Kunihiko Ikuhara

Script by Katsuyuki Sumisawa, Megumi Sugihara, Shigeru Yanagawa, Sukehiro Tomita

Storyboard by Junichi Sato

Music by Kazuo Satou, Takanori Arisawa, Tetsuya Komoro

Character Design by Kazuko Tadano

Art Director: Junichi Tanijuchi

Art Design by Tadao Kubota, Takamura Mukuo

Produced by Iriya Azuma, Kenji Oota, Munehisa Higuchi


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hisakawa/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Emi Shinohara/Amanda C. Miller as Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Princess Serenity/Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Michie Tomizawa/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Rica Fukami/Cherami Leigh as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Katsuji Mori/Liam O’Brien as Nephrite

Kazuyuki Sogabe/Patrick Seitz as Kunzite

Keiichi Nanba/Lucien Dodge as Zoisite

Keiko Han/Michelle Ruff as Luna

Keiko Han/Cindy Robinson as Queen Beryl

Masaya Onosaka/Tony Daniels as Jadeite

Mika Doi as Queen Serenity

Noriko Uemura/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Queen Metallia

Shino Kakinuma/Danielle Judovitz as Naru Osaka

Tohru Furuya/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen/Prince Endymion

Yasuhiro Takato as Artemis


Usagi Tsukino is a cheerful 14-year-old schoolgirl who often finds herself in unwanted trouble. One day, she saves a talking cat named Luna from some mean kids, and her life is changed forever. Luna gives Usagi a magic brooch that transforms her into Sailor Moon, defender of love and justice! Now Usagi must work with Luna to find the other Sailor Guardians and the Moon Princess, whose Legendary Silver Crystal is Earth’s only hope against the dark forces of the evil Queen Beryl!


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Considered as one of the most successful anime franchise in Japan, Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon was a manga and anime series that captivated fans worldwide.

Created by mangaka Naoko Takeuchi, the manga was serialized in Nakayoshi from 1991-1997, received 18 tankobon volumes and ran for 200 episodes on TV Asahi from 1992-1997.  Even receiving an English dubbed adaptation during the mid-90s.

The series would spawn three animated films, musicals, video games, toys, clothing and more!  And to this day, the popularity of “Sailor Moon” continues with a new generation of fans.

With a new series titled “Sailor Moon Crystal” released in Japan and licensed for streaming in the USA by Viz Media on Hulu and Neon Alley in 2014, to make sure voice acting is consistent in the new series, the original series was redubbed in English by the current cast.

And to help promote the new series, Viz Media has released the original first 23 episodes of season one on Blu-ray!

The series revolves around  a Juban Middle School teenager named Usagi Tsukino.  A girl who is not too smart, often seen crying and loves eating.  One day, she encounters a black cat with a crescent-shaped symbol on its forehead.  Meanwhile, there is talk around town of a masked vigilante named Sailor V stopping criminals and becoming popular thanks to the media exposure.

But one day, as she comes into contact with the black cat, the cat begins to talk and introduce herself as Luna.  Luna gives Usagi a brooch which allows her to transform into Sailor Moon, whenever she is in danger.

That same day, she sees her best friend Naru panicking that her mother has turned into a monster named Morga and immediately, Usagi transforms into Sailor Moon and ends up defeating the evil Morga.  And she receives encouragement with a masked man known as Tuxedo Mask and learns that she has a power known as “Moon Tiara Boomerang” which can defeat and exterminate the monsters.

And while the evil Queen Beryl continues to create monster and do whatever she can to defeat Sailor Moon, Usagi begins to meet make new friends who also have a similar ability.

Can they together, defeat the evil monsters sent by Queen Beryl?


The main characters of “Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One″ are:

  • Sailor Moon/Usagi Tsukino – The main protagonist. A teenager attending Juban Middle School who is clumsy, not-too-smart, often crying and often hungry.  But she is a person that has a lot of love, compassion and understanding towards people and animals.  She can transform into Sailor Moon, a soldier of love and justice.
  • Tuxedo Mask/Mamoru Chiba – A student at Usagi’s school, he often teases her and drives her mad.  He is a mysterious persona known as Tuxedo Mask and often aids Sailor Moon and the other Sailor senshi.
  • Sailor Mercury/Ami Mizuno –Very intelligent and always studying.  Ami can transform into Sailor Mercury, Soldier of Water and Wisdom.  Appears in episode 8.
  • Sailor Mars/Rei Hino – Rei is a miko (shrine maiden) and works as a Shinto priestess.  She has the power of precognition and uses Shinto scrolls to nullify evil.  Sailor Moon is the Soldier of Fire and Passion.  She is often arguing with Usagi.  Appears in episode 10.
  • Luna – A former advisor and servant to Queen Serenity, she was sent to Earth to look after the Sailor Soldiers.  She is often giving Usagi advice.

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VIDEO:

“Sailor Moon” is presented in 1080p High Definition (4:3).  It’s important to note that “Sailor Moon” did not receive the same expensive remastering and restoration as “Ranma 1/2” or “Dragon Ball Z”, the series was upscaled.  But that’s not a bad thing.  We have seen how FUNimation had upscaled a lot of their classic anime such as “Yu Yu Hakusho” and there was an improvement.

But with “Sailor Moon”, there appears to be an extensive amount of DNR used in order to clean up scratches and grain but it appears that it was overdone.  I noticed that there was ghosting and color bleeding and issues that people will see if comparing with the original ADV Films 2003 DVD release.  I know that these fans who care about anime on Blu-ray will complain about the picture quality, so those who are very picky about PQ, just know that a lot of DNR was used.

With that being said, you have another audience.  A group who came from the old school fan sub from VHS years that were used to watching bad quality video back then and now want to watch the series in HD and you have the anime fans who want to watch “Sailor Moon” and will watch it on their smaller TV or people who are not picky at all.

So, depending on which type of fan you are in the spectrum, if you are expecting the same type of remastering and restoration as “Ranma 1/2” or “Dragon Ball Z”, this series did not receive it, it’s just an upscale, but an upscale with a lot of DNR utilized.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sailor Moon” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Japanese and English.  It’s important to note that you can watch the series by selecting English without English subtitles, English with English subtitles, English subtitles on songs and signs or Japanese with English subtitles.

It’s very important to emphasize that those wanting the same English dub from the mid-90’s that they watched on television in the U.S., will not get that English dub on this Blu-ray release.  The English dub is new.

With that being said, there is an improvement of sound with the English soundtrack.  While Sailor Moon in Japanese is in its original presentation, the soundtrack has not been enhanced and sounds a bit weaker compared to the English dub.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sailor Moon: Season One″ comes with the following special features:

DISC 3:

 

  • Sailor Moon Announcement Panel – (13:43) Viz Media Senior Manager of Animation Marketing Charlene Ingram reveals the surprise announcement of the “Sailor Moon” Blu-ray announcement at Anime Central.
  • English Dub Behind the Scenes – (12:54) Featuring behind-the-scenes recording of “Sailor Moon” at the studio and interviews with the voice cast.
  • Official Announcement Trailer – (3:19) The original announcement of Sailor Moon being released on Blu-ray, complete and uncensored.  And also the announcement of “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal”.
  • Fan Reactions – (3:59) Charlene Ingram interviews with fans of “Sailor Moon” about their reactions to the series being released on Blu-ray.
  • AX Sailor Moon Reel – (1:49) A short featurette on Sailor Moon Day at Anime Expo.
  • Clean Opening and Closing – Opening and closing theme with optional English subtitles.
  • Gallery – Use your remote (or keyboard) to view the small galleries.
  • Trailers – Viz Media trailers

 

DISC 6:

Note: A few of the same special features from disc three are repeated in disc 6

  • Official Announcement Trailer – (3:19) The original announcement of Sailor Moon being released on Blu-ray, complete and uncensored.  And also the announcement of “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal”.
  • AX Sailor Moon Reel – (1:49) A short featurette on Sailor Moon Day at Anime Expo.
  • Clean Opening and Closing – Opening and closing theme with optional English subtitles.
  • Gallery – Use your remote (or keyboard) to view the small galleries.
  • Trailers – Viz Media trailers

EXTRAS:

“Sailor Moon: Season One” comes with an 80-page booklet with episode summary, music lyrics and artwork.


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During my college years, I was a fan of the “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon” series.  I watched the original series in Japanese at the time and along with “Dragon Ball Z” and “Dragon Ball GT”, it was one of the few anime series I was watching from Japan during a time when Japanese video rental stores were everywhere in California.

Watching these episodes in not the greatest quality, may it be in Japanese or English fan subtitled, it didn’t matter as I was able to watch the popular hit anime series in America (as a release of the series on video seemed as it was never going to happen in the early ’90s).

I purchased the anime soundtrack to “Sailor Moon R” at the time.  Attended the very early anime conventions in America, in which you would see your few Sailor Moon cosplayers during the early ’90s and I can easily remember playing the “Sailor Moon S” fighting game on the 3DO with a few people who have gone on to be big names in the anime industry and then purchasing “Sailor Moon Super S” for nearly a hundred bucks on PlayStation.

And of course, remembering the U.S. English dub release of “Sailor Moon”.  Reading the Sailor Moon manga series from the old Mixx Zine years and purchasing the Japanese soundtracks of “Sailor Moon”.

So, in some ways, I can easily say that watching “Sailor Moon” was part of young life and possibly my first foray into watching an anime series that featured a cast primarily of strong female characters.

While “Sailor Moon S” will always be my favorite series of all “Sailor Moon” series for its more darker tone, I did enjoy the first season for its lighthearted humor and like all character-building seasons, with the release of Viz Media’s “Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One”, this is the introduction to Usagi Tsukino, Ami Mizuno, Rei Hino, Mamoru Chiba and Luna.

While Sailor Venus was shown as this mysterious vigilante in first episode and other episodes of season one, both she and Sailor Jupiter will make their appearance in part two of season one.

The first 23 episodes feature Usagi and Luna trying to find the other Sailor Soldiers, meanwhile the evil Queen Beryl wanting her minions such as Jadeite, Nephrite and Zoisite to gather energy by sending monsters to Earth.

As for the Blu-ray release, as a fan of the series, it is great to see Viz Media releasing the series in its complete format, in Japanese and in English, but also giving a more modern English dub.  While I watched the original series in Japanese, I watched this Blu-ray release in the new English dub.  And I have to say the casting was fantastic for this newer English dub because the original dub that was shown on U.S. television back in the mid-90s, in my personal opinion, was not that great.

Unfortunately, because the series was upscaled, there will be an ongoing debate between videophiles who will be vocal against the use of excessive DNR especially when comparing with their original DVD releases. While those who are not so caring of the video PQ will find the series to suffice and to be much cleaner than what they probably watched on VHS back in the ’90s.  But I’m advocate of less to no DNR, but at the same time, knowing that not all companies can afford to do a major restoration to clean up a series.  In Japan, we have seen it done with “Dragon Ball Z”, “Ranma 1/2”, “Urusei Yatsura” and “Maison Ikkoku”, while in the U.S., we have seen a lot of upscales, some that look impressive.

So, I do know that the picture quality will be a sore spot for anime fans, especially those who care about picture quality and were expecting the best in HD.

As for the lossless soundtrack, the Japanese soundtrack using the original soundtrack is not as great as I would have hoped.  The English dub soundtrack is much more clearer and more pleasing to my ears.  Subtitles are in English and they are not optional in terms of clicking the subtitles button your remote.  You need to select Japanese with English subtitles, there is no option to remove it if you want to watch it in Japanese only.

The series comes with a good number of special features that showcase the announcement at Anime Central, “Sailor Moon Day” at Anime Expo, interviews with the English dub cast and more.

“Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One” was a big shock for me to see released on Blu-ray.  Because it was not done on the Japanese side with a full restoration, I was surprised to see Viz Media do an upscaled Blu-ray release.  But as a fan, how can you not be happy with a release of the first 23-episodes on Blu-ray, in Japanese and English complete.  No worries about transformation edits or violent tones being removed, this is what fans wanted to see.

Overall, “Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One” is a blessing for fans who have wanted and waited for a complete “Sailor Moon” release in the United States.  The fact that 23-episodes are on Blu-ray is a great value compared to the five or six-episode DVD releases in the past (which were quite expensive back then per volume).

While videophiles will not be pleased with the DNR thus affecting picture quality, I’m sure there is another side of fandom who are watching the series and are not as hardcore into the technical details of the more hardcore anime on Blu-ray fans.

But knowing that the picture quality of the series is hampered by excessive DNR, I can only hope that Viz Media takes it down a notch and find a way to please fans on both sides of the spectrum.

Still, it’s still hard to pass up all 23-episodes on Blu-ray for “Sailor Moon” and if you are a hardcore fan of the series and the DNR issue is not going to bother you, then definitely give “Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One” a try!

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