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One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

October 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates are accused of conspiracy of wanting to destroy Fishman island, while the true antagonists wanting to destroy the island,  Hordy and Decken enact their plans to cause major chaos.  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! 

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two

DURATION: Episodes 529-540 (Duration: 300 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: August 15, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Kazuya Nakai/Christopher Sabat as Roronoa Zoro

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


The rough landing on Fishman Island has scattered the Straw Hats throughout Ryugu Kingdom, but a good deed earns them an invitation to the royal palace. Everything goes swimmingly until a psychic’s prophecy turns the whole island against Luffy and the crew. Backs to the wall, their honorable hosts become their hostages, but the timing couldn’t be worse.


Hordy seeks revenge against Luffy for destroying Arlong’s ambitions and threaten to destroy the Ryugu Palace.  Meanwhile, what happens when the citizens of Fishman Island thinks that Luffy had kidnapped Shirahoshi?

Meanwhile, Zoro vs. Hordy and Luffy vs. Decken.

All this and more in “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two”!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 19th season and a total of 809 episodes have been aired in Japan.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 532 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary featuring Doug Jackson (Minister of the Right) and Francis Fuselier (Minister of the Left).
  • EPISODE 534 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Larry Brantley (voice of Hordy) and Jim Foronda (voice of Decken).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece Cast Goes to Matsuricon 2016: Q&A Panel – (32:41) The One Piece cast attend Matsuricon in Columbus, Ohio for the Q&A.
  • Textless Opening Song “We Go!”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two”, the episodes continue the Fishman Island arc (featuring episodes 529-540). Note: In Japan, this arc of episodes is season 15.

In this latest arc, things go a little troublesome for the Straw Hat Pirates as Sharley has a prediction that the island will be destroyed by Luffy.  And with this prediction, there is a feeling that the Straw Hats must be stopped.  So, the Minister of the Left accuses the Straw Hat Pirates for the conspiracy to destroy the island and to kidnap mermaids.

But from that prediction on, things go crazy as Hordy destroy Gyro’s ship and Hordy is intent in killing Neptune and making the fishman a superior race over humans.

Meanwhile, Vander Decken IX intends to marry the princess and in order to accomplish his plans and wanting Hordy to accomplish his goals, both fishmen form an alliance in order to destroy Fishman Island.

What will happen when Hordy and Decken come across the Straw Hat Pirates?

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries and the Q&A at Matsuricon 2016.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates are accused of conspiracy of wanting to destroy Fishman island, while the true antagonists wanting to destroy the island,  Hordy and Decken enact their plans to cause major chaos.  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”!

One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates reunite two years later and demonstrate their new skills that they have learned.  But what happens when the crew travels to their destination…Fishman Island?  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One

DURATION: Episodes 517-528 (Duration: 300 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: June 20, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Kazuya Nakai/Christopher Sabat as Roronoa Zoro

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


The human-hating Hordy Jones and his army of 100,000 troops has Fishman Island’s royal family by the gills. Luckily, the Straw Hats make it in time to show off a boatload of powerful new moves! But just when Luffy kicks into gear, an ancient ship nearly twice the size of the island heads straight for Shirahoshi. Only the cowardly mermaid can guide the vessel away before it crushes them all.


It has been two years since Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates has been together and now, the promised day of reuniting has arrived and the group head back to the seas.  But when they find out a group has been impersonating them, the group has chance to show how much they have improved in the past two years.

Also, what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates head to their latest destination….Fishman Island?

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 19th season and a total of 799 episodes have been aired in Japan.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 519 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Christopher Sabat (voice of Zoro), Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper) and Eric Vale (voice of Sanji).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece Cast Goes to Matsuricon 2016: Live Dub – (18:59) The One Piece cast attend Matsuricon in Columbus, Ohio as the even is celebratine a pirate theme and the cast take part in a live dub in front of their fans.
  • EPISODE 526 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Sonny Strait (voice of Usopp) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook).
  • Textless Opening Song “We Go!” Ver. 1 and 2

With the release of “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One”, the episodes feature the reunion of the Straw Hat Pirates (featuring episodes 517-528). Note: In Japan, this arc of episodes is season 15.

Two years have passed since the War at Marineford and as the Straw Hat Pirates promised, they will reunite after they train for two years.  But the group finds out that someone has been impersonating them.  What happens when the Straw Hat Pirates come across the Fake Straw Hat Pirates?

The next storyline features the group together and go on aboard the Thousand Sunny to their destination, Fishman Island.  But they are being pursued by a pirate named Caribou and his crew.  But waiting for them in the sea is a large Kraken known for crushing ships, but what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates and the Kraken confront each other?

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries but possibly the coolest inclusion is the Matsuricon 2016: Live Dub.  One can hope that Funimation continues this for upcoming releases of “One Piece” or other titles!

Overall, “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates reunite two years later and demonstrate their new skills that they have learned.  But what happens when the crew travels to their destination…Fishman Island?  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! Recommended!

Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement” is a series that will interest those who continue to play the “Sengoku Basara” video games and those who have watched the previous anime series and the animated film. With the many characters featured, literally there can be new “Sengoku Basara” anime series dedicate to various army’s and multiple storylines. This third series focuses on the Battle of Sekigahara and focuses on Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu. All in all, an anime series with a good combination of humor and action but also more of a focus on human emotion after tragedy. If you enjoy “Sengoku Basara”, definitely give “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” a try!

Image courtesy of © CAPCOM/TEAM BASARA. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: December 27, 2016


Directed by Takashi Sano

Series Composition by Natsuko Takahashi

Character Design by Michinori Chiba

Art Director: Daisuke Jinba

Chief Animation Director: Toshimitsu Kobayashi, Yumenosuke Tokuda

Anime Production by Telecom Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kazuya Nakai/Robert McCollum as Date Masamune

Souichiro Hoshi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Sanada Yukimura

Tomokazu Seki/Matthew Mercer as Ishida Mitsunari

Toru Ohkawa/Liam O’Brien as Tokugawa Ieyasu

Ami Koshimizu/Kat Steel as Tsuruhime

Fumihiko Tachiki/Mark Stoddard as Ohtani Yoshitsugu

Jun Fukuyama/Tony Oliver as Kobayakawa Hideaki

Kenichi Ogata/R. Bruce Elliott as Shimazu Yoshihiro

Mamiko Noto/Laura Bailey as Oichi

Masakazu Morita/Eric Vale as Maeda Keiji

Natsuko Kuwatani/Stephanie Sheh as Kasuga

Noriaki Sugiyama/Brittney Karbowski as Otomo Sourin

Rikiya Koyama/Richard Epcar as Kuroda Kanbee

Romi Park/Greg Ayres as Uesugi Kenshin

Takehito Koyasu/Michael Sinterniklaas as Sarutobi Sasauke

Tessho Genda/Chris Ayres as Takeda Shingen

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Travis Willingham as Katakura Kojuro


Get ready for the hacking, slashing battle of a lifetime in a new adaptation of the Sengoku Basara franchise. The new installment, based on the world created by Capcom, revolves around one massive conflict featuring mechanized samurai, mystical ninjas, gun-toting warriors, and a blinding array of deadly special moves! During the turbulent period of warring states, numerous feudal lords sought to rule the land of the rising sun. With Nobunaga defeated, Hideyoshi lead a brutal campaign to wipe out the remaining combatants. His ambitions were crushed, however, when he was betrayed by the idealistic Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu’s rebellion marked the start of a new conflict that would put old and new alliances to the test as Hideyoshi’s loyal followers began plotting their revenge, and the other remaining lords prepared their armies for the showdown at Sekigahara.


When it comes to video games that feature samurai’s and a general taking on hoards of enemies, in the US, “Samurai Warriors” (similar to Dynasty Warriors) from KOEI is well-known. But in Japan, CAPCOM began their own series known as “Sengoku Basara” (Devil Kings) which takes place during the Sengoku period and a similar concept as their rivals and has also earned its strong fan following.

In 2005, the first game was released for the Sony Playstation 2 and was released in the U.S. (as “Devil Kings”) but unfortunately, CAPCOM tried to change the whole story of the Sengoku period by trying to connect it to their “Devil May Cry” series in order to attract players but because of the changes and the localization crew feeling they needed to make it more difficult in America, needless to say, it was a failure. People wanted the same game that was in Japan and within the last six years, there have been numerous video game releases.

In Japan, two seasons of “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings” aired. Followed by “Sengoku Basara II” in 2010, a film version titled “Sengoku Basara: The Last Party” was released in 2011 and in 2014, a third TV series titled “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” based on the video game “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes” was released and was released by Funimation.

What is “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement” about?

The third anime series is much different from the previous two seasons as the previous were animated by Production I.G. and now the series is produced by Telecom Animation Film.  As this storyline is considered an “alternate setting” and instead of focusing on many battles, the storyline focuses on the Sekigahara Battle and takes place after the death of Oda Nobunaga.

The anime series takes place during the Sengoku Period and the warlord Oda Nobunaga was betrayed and killed by his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide.  Toyotomi Hideyoshi would defeat Mitsuhide and would launch an attack on Odawara Castle, home of the Houjoi Clan.

As the Date Army got involved with the battle, they were defeated by Toyotomi’s warrior, Ishida Mitsunari.

Toyotomi’s attack was short-lived as Tokugawa Ieyasu would defeat Toyotomi Hideyoshi and kill him in combat.  But another force tried to attack Tokugawa’s forces, Oda Nobunaga’s sister, Oichi.   As for Toyotomi’s army, the new leader would now be led by Ishida Mitsunari.

Meanwhile, word gets through to Chousokabe Motochika that his land had been attacked by his friend, Tokugawa.  And due to his betrayal, Chousokabe wants revenge.

And as everyone worries about war in the land, new alliances are formed.  Who will be left standing?


VIDEO:

“Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the animation from Telecom Animation is slightly different from Production I.G. when it comes to character design and also background designs.  It’s subjective to the viewer and I’m slightly biased towards Production I.G., but I will say that Telecom Animation did a good job.

Colors are absolutely vibrant and bold. Also, very good lighting effects throughout the film.  I detected no banding, artifacting or anything negative about the picture quality for “Sengoku Basara: The Last Party”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sengoku Basara: The Last Party” is presented in lossless English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. Personally, I enjoyed the Japanese soundtrack because the generals sound much more menacing while I felt the English dub, as good as it is, sometimes I feel certain voice talent are overly used and they sound the same for no matter what characters they play.

Personally, I enjoyed the Japanese soundtrack because the generals sound much more menacing while I felt the English dub, as good as it is, sometimes I feel certain voice talent are overly used and they sound the same for no matter what characters they play. In the first season, I mentioned that although I enjoy Johnny Yong Bosch’s acting work when it comes to “Bleach”, but his Yukimura (Sengoku Basara) sounds like an annoying version of Ichigo (Bleach). But with that being said, the English dub has grown on me and felt the FUNimation English dub actors did a fine job.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“SSengoku Basara: Edge of Judgement” contains the following special features:

  • Episode 01 Audio Commentary – Audio Commentary by Taliesen Jaffe (ADR Director) and Michael Sinterniklaas (voice of Sarutobi Sasuke).
  • Episode 03 Audio Commentary – Audio Commentary by Christopher Bevins (ADR Director), Robert Mccollum (voice of Data Masamune) and Eric Vale (voice of Maeda Keiji).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song – Featuring “Thunderclap” and “Hokkyokusei ~Polaris~”.
  • Trailers

There is no doubt that in Japan, “Sengoku Basara” has a pretty strong fan following from its video games and anime series, especially among the cosplayers who are often seen doing group cosplay of the characters from the series.

For “Sengoku Basara”, it’s a popular video game series that has tried to make these warring clans (that happen to live in the same time period) and generals with amazing abilities take on each other. But in order to keep the storylines fresh for the video games, alternate settings are going to be common place and the same can be said for the “Sengoku Basara” anime series.

In the case of “Sengoku Basara”, because there are many characters, instead of focusing on a certain historical battle of the same two people, the series tends to focus on other characters.

“Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” is the third series and the two characters foucused on is Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu.  For those not familiar with Japanese history, the “Battle of Sekigahara” was a battle that would establish the Tokugawa shogunate and prove to people the power and leadership of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

The series focuses on the storyline of Oda Nobunaga as the person who had control of most of Japan until he was betrayed by his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide.  Toyotomi Hideyoshi avenged his master.  And this is where the anime series differs from history as Tokugawa Ieyasu betrays Toyotomi Hideyoshi, leaving Hideyoshi’s warrior Ishida Mitsunari to seek revenge on his former friend.

In the first series, we saw various battles between Sanada Yukimura and Date Masamune vs. Oda Nobunaga and Kojuro vs. Mitsuhide.  In the second series, the series focused on Toyotomi Hideyoshi as the antagonist.

And for this third anime series, we have Ieyasu Tokugawa as the main antagonist and Mitsunari wanting revenge on Ieyasu for killing his master, Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

The other characters have significant roles but more of showing which their allegiance lies.  Fans of Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura may be surprised that their significance in the series is decreased, but they still remain important to the storyline.

And it’s probably best to leave it at that because of the numerous characters featured, unless you are familiar with the game and the anime series, just the sheer mention of the characters and the alternate plots will confuse people.

But I will say that if you followed the anime and the video games, “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” is an interesting way to keep the storyline fresh as it’s an anime with new motivations, interesting perspectives but most of all, a focus on different characters, but yet also introducing new characters as well.  Also, how this series tend to show more of the human emotion after the deaths of various leaders and how certain individuals are affected by the deaths.

The third series features a new anime production team with Telecom Animation in charge, but cast of both the Funimation series and the video game series are involved in the third series as it was a collaboration between Funimation and Capcom as mentioned in the first audio commentary.

Animation is very good, but it’s subjective as I’m sure there are those who prefer Production I.G.’s animation and those who may prefer the Telecom Animation animation.  But the anime series is colorful and vibrant and both lossless soundtracks are well-done with the English dub having an edge with the 5.1 lossless soundtrack.

Overall, “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement” is a series that will interest those who continue to play the “Sengoku Basara” video games and those who have watched the previous anime series and the animated film.  With the many characters featured, literally there can be new “Sengoku Basara” anime series dedicate to various army’s and multiple storylines.  This third series focuses on the Battle of Sekigahara and focuses on Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu.  All in all, an anime series with a good combination of humor and action but also more of a focus on human emotion after tragedy.

If you enjoy “Sengoku Basara”, definitely give “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” a try!

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

December 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

aoi-movie-b

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

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

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

THEATRICAL RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 88 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: December 17, 2013

Original Creator: Kazue Kato

Directed by Atsushi Takashi

Script by Reiko Yoshida

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Shinji Kimura

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Yukio Okumura

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Bryce Papenbrook as Rin Okumura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Shiemi Moriyama

Rie Kugimiya/Cassandra Lee as Usamaro

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Todd Haberkorn as Cheng-Long Liu

Kazuya Nakai/Kyle Hebert as Ryūji Suguro

Ayahi Takagaki/Stephanie Sheh as Kuro

Eri Kitamura/Kira Buckland as Izumo Kamiki

Hiroshi Kamiya/Sam Regal as Mephisto Pheles

Keiji Fujiwara/Kirk Thornton as Shirō Fujimoto

Koji Yusa as Renzō Shima

Rina Satou/Wendee Lee as Shura Kirigakure

Tetsuya Kakihara/Darrel Guilbeau as Amaimon

Yuuki Kaji as Konekomaru Miw

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, What is “Blue Exorcist” about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blue Exorcist The Movie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Blue Exorcist the Movie” features the following characters:

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

VIDEO:

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

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

Disc 2:

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

EXTRAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highly recommended!

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

October 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

blueexorcist-2

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

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

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

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

YEAR: 2011

DURATION: (Episodes 13-25) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: September 10, 2013

Based on the manga by Kazue Kato

Directed by Tensai Okamura

Series Composition by Ryota Yamaguchi

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Masatoshi Kai

Chief Animation Director: Keigo Sasaki

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Yukio Okumura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Shiemi Moriyama

Kazuya Nakai/Kyle Hebert as Ryūji Suguro

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Bryce Papenbrook as Rin Okumura

Ayahi Takagaki/Stephanie Sheh as Kuro

Eri Kitamura/Kira Buckland as Izumo Kamiki

Hiroshi Kamiya/Sam Regal as Mephisto Pheles

Keiji Fujiwara/Kirk Thornton as Shirō Fujimoto

Koji Yusa as Renzō Shima

Rina Satou/Wendee Lee as Shura Kirigakure

Tetsuya Kakihara/Darrel Guilbeau as Amaimon

Yuuki Kaji as Konekomaru Miw

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

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

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

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

So, What is “Blue Exorcist”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Blue Exorcist” features the following characters:

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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

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

(Duration: 1 hr., 10 minutes)

Track Listing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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