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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!

 

PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection – Premium Edition (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

psycho-pass-s1

“PSYCHO-PASS” is a sci-fi crime thriller with cool characters, a captivating and also excitingly dark storyline and awesome animation from Production I.G.   And for fans of the series, if you love “PSYCHO-PASS”, then you will definitely want to check out the “PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection – Premium Edition”!  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © PSYCHO-PASS Committee. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection

YEAR OF RELEASE: 2012-2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-22 (550 Minutes)

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

RATED: TV M

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2014

Chief Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro

Directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani

Series Composition by Gen Urobuchi

Music by Yuugo Kanno

Character Design by Kyoji Asano

Art Director: Koji Eto

Mechanical Design: Shinobu Tsuneki

Anime Production: Production I.G.

Featuring the voices of:

Kana Hanazawa/Kate Oxley as Akane Tsunemori

Tomokazu Seki/Robert McCollum as Shinya Kōgami

Akira Ishida/Scott Freeman as Shuusei Kagari

Kenji Nojima/Josh Grelle as Nobuchika Ginoza

Kinryuu Arimoto/Jason Douglas as Tomomi Masaoka

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Shion Karanomori

Noriko Hidaka/Stephanie Young as Dominator

Shizuka Itou/Lindsay Seidel as Yayoi Kunizuka

Takahiro Sakurai/Alex Organ as Shōgo Makishima

Yoshiko Sakakibara/Linda Leonard as Jōshū Kasei

Welcome to a world where just thinking about a crime is enough to enough to make you guilty. Bad intentions can no longer be hidden, and the police know exactly which tainted minds are about to cross over to the wrong side of the law. The great equalizer in the war on thugs is the Dominator, a futuristic weapon that can read minds and assess the risk that a citizen will turn criminal.

Cops work in teams made up of Enforcers and Inspectors. Enforcers take out the bad guys, Inspectors stop their partners from going rogue, and the all-powerful Sibyl System keeps a watchful eye on us all. Society is paralyzed by its deepest, darkest desires, and trial by jury has been replaced by the wrath of the Dominator. Welcome to the future. How guilty are you?

psycho-pass-s1-b

In Japan,  Katsuyuki Motohiro is a respected TV and filmmmaaker.

From directing the popular “Odoru Daisousassen” drama and film series (known as “Bayside Shakedown” in Asia and the U.S.), “Udon”, “Shaolin Girl” and “Space Travelers”, Katsuyuki Motohiro was given a chance to work on an anime series.  And in this case, becoming the executive producer for Production I.G.’s series “PSYCHO-PASS”.

Working with director Naoyoshi Shiotani (“Blood-C”, “Blood-C: The Last Dark”, “Tokyo Marble Chocolate”), writer Gen Urobuchi (creator of the “Fate/Zero” series and writer of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”) and producer Joji Wada (“Guilty Crown”, “Kimi ni Todoke”, “Robotics;Notes”, “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings”), “PSYCHO-PASS” became a popular anime series and now a sequel and a film was announced in Japan.

Here in the United States, “PSYCHO-PASS” was released by FUNimation as a Blu-ray+DVD combo with a two-set release and also a complete collection premium edition bundled with a soundtrack, decal, ID holder, keychain and slipcase.

“PSYCHO-PASS” aired on Fuji TV’s Noitamina from Oct. 2012 through March 2013 and help spawn a manga series and also several novels.

“PSYCHO-PASS” is set in the year 2113, during a time when the Sibyl System can measure a person’s mental state, personality and probability of a person committing a crime by utilizing a cymatic scan of the brain known as “Psycho-Pass”.

If the Crime Coefficient of an individual is too high, they are pursued by the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division and are apprehended or taken down with lethal force.

The female protagonist of the series is Akane Tsunemori, a new rookie inspector for the PSBCI and each inspector are partnered with a special team of latent criminals known as Enforcers.

One of the Enforcers that she is partnered with is Shinya Kogami, the male protagonist of the series who is a former inspector who took on the Specimen Case which somehow increased his Crime Coefficient to an abnormal level.  With the death of an Enforcer working under him during a case, the Sibyl System has demoted him and thus his limited freedom has made him an Enforcer for Akane.

But for the PSBCI, an inspector and enforcer must use a special weapon known as “Dominators”.  Weapons that can only fire at criminals with a higher-than-acceptable Crime Coefficient.

The first half of the series features Akane going on cases with the Enforcers.  Unlike other inspectors, despite passing exams with high scores, she is unwilling to see people who have been deemed as criminals to be killed. And that is what attracts Kogami in working for Akane, because of her calm-demeanor and her way of handling situations prevents him from killing anyone.

Currently, the PBSCI are trying to capture their #1 target, Shingo Makishima.  A man responsible for Kogami’s demotion, the death of his Enforcer.  But unlike other criminals and despite of his crimes, his Crime Coefficient levels never reach dangerous levels and so, inspectors and enforces can not fire at him because has has managed to beat the Psycho-Pass system.

Will Akane and Kogami be able to capture the ruthless Shingo Makishima?

“PSYCHO-PASS” features the following characters:

Akane Tsunemoto – A rookie inspector for the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division.  Top at her class in employment exams, she joined the police because of her high scores and believes she can make a difference.  But unlike other inspectors who will not hesitate to kill, she would rather give people a chance and let justice handle them than having them killed.  But what happens when she crosses paths with the sadistic Shingo Makishima?

Shinya Kogami – A former inspector of Unit One turned enforcer.  During a case, his Crime Coefficient skyrocketed to abnormal levels and due to the death of an enforcer, he was demoted to an Enforcer by the Sibyl System because of his violent actions.  But working with Akane, has made him calm.  He has trained himself, so his superiors will never have to worry about killing criminals.

Nobuchika Ginoza – A veteran inspector working with Akane and responsible for coordinating the Enforcers of Unit One.   He has a hatred for those with higher Crime Coefficients.

Tomomi Masaoka – The eldest Enforcer of Unit One.  He is responsible for guiding Akane and teaching her how the system works.  He is a former detective who’s dislike for the Sibyl System has made him an enforcer due to a Psycho-Pass done on him.

Shusei Kagari – An Enforcer of Unit One. And often seen joking or flirting with Akane.

Yayoi Kunizuka – The only female Enforcer of Unit One.  Very calm and cool!

Shion Karanomori – An enforcer and an analyst for the Public Safety Bureau’s General Analysis Division.  Her responsibility is to analyze data and evidence.

Joshu Kasei – The Chief of the Bureau.

Shogo Makishima – The primary antagonist who has managed to elude the Public Safety Bureau and has managed to bypass the Psycho-Pass and keep his Crime Coefficient down despite his murderous crimes.

VIDEO:

I think it’s a given when you see Production I.G. attached to an anime series, you expect quality!  Not only in character designs but also background art.  And once again, Production I.G. has delivered with “PSYCHO-PASS”.

The anime series is presented in 1080p High Definition but for it’s overall animation direction, there is a hint of softness which I believe to be more intentional but it’s definitely one of the more stylish anime series that I have seen released in the United States for 2014.

The character designs for the series is fantastic!  I love the character designs, the outfits and the actual shading that goes for each character.  And while this quality is a norm for Production I.G., compared to a lot of anime series, not many studios put so much into character designs and anime backgrounds and giving the overall series a high-production feel.

While the series leans more towards the darker/softer side instead of vibrant and colorful, “PSYCHO-PASS” still looks wonderful on Blu-ray!  I didn’t notice any major banding or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO:

“PSYCHO-PASS” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  And as expected, the English dub track has a better dynamic range and is much more surround driven because of its 5.1 soundtrack.  But overall, both soundtracks are well-acted, especially the Japanese soundtrack for the more emotional scenes.  Dialogue is crystal clear, as with the music on both lossless tracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • EPISODE 5 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Scott Freeman (voice of Shusei Kagari), Lydia Mackay (voice of Shion Karanomori) and Lindsay Seidel (voice of Yayoi Kunizuka).
  • EPISODE 11 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Kate Oxley (voice of Akane Tsunemori), Rob McCollum (voice of Shinya Kogami) and Alex Organ (voice of Shogo Makishima).
  • EPISODE 13 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (ADR Director), Jason Douglas (voice of Tomomi Masaoka) and Josh Grelle (voice of Nobucika Ginoza).
  • EPISODE 18 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (ADR Director), Stephanie Young (voice of Dominator) and Linda Leonard (voice of Joshu Kasei).
  • Psycho-Pass at Sakura-Con Part 1 – (21:20) Featuring interviews with Executive Director Katsuyuki Motohiro, Director Naoyoshi Shiotani and Producer Joji Wada.
  • Psycho-Pass at Sakura-Con Part 2 – (20:17) Featuring interviews with Executive Director Katsuyuki Motohiro, Director Naoyoshi Shiotani and Producer Joji Wada plus coverage of the PSYCHO-PASS cosplayers at “Sakura-Con”.
  • Textless Opening Song and Closing Songs
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “PSYCHO-PASS”.

Read our J!-ENT 20th Anniversary 575-page special issue with our article with the creators of “PSYCHO-PASS”!

Prior to watching “PSYCHO-PASS”, the mere mention of Katsuyuki Motohiro’s name was enough for me to want to watch this anime series!

Having seen the impact and being entertained by his live action drama and movie series “Odoru Daisousassen”, it was an instant given for me that I have to watch this series because of his focus on characters but also the conflicts that police officers often are under, especially against a major criminal.

And in the case of “PSYCHO-PASS”, the collaboration between Katsuyuki Motohiro and Production I.G. was a win-win!

Having watched the series from beginning to end, what makes “PSYCHO-PASS” so captivating is its characters and storyline.  We get to see the characters of Akane Tsunemori and Shinya Kogami grow throughout the series and because of its number of characters, there are episodes that are strong in character development and showing the viewer how various people became enforcers, also seeing Akane being tested for her demeanor and being analyzed via Psycho-Pass especially when Akane comes across the antagonist Shogo Makishima.

By episode 15, things go into full-swing as the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division pursues Shogo Makishima and more revelations of the Sybil System are revealed.

Without spoiling the series, I will say that I look forward to season two as there are many twists and turns throughout this series but fans who love sci-fi (especially in a “Blade Runner” type of way), will no doubt enjoy “PSYCHO-PASS” for its strong storyline.  It’s important to note that this series is not for the timid as there is a lot of violence and it was one of the major criticisms in Japan was because of its graphic violence.  But to show how sadistic the antagonist, Shogo Makishima is… and so, the series definitely hooks people as a crime thriller as well. But definitely, not an anime series for the kids or those who do not like to see violence.

It’s important to note that FUNimation has released two parts of “PSYCHO-PASS” season 1 for those who are not interested in the premium edition.

While I am reviewing primarily the discs, the premium edition does come with awesome swag which include the soundtrack CD’s, a Criminal Investigation Division Logo Decal, a Criminal Investigation Division ID holder and a Criminal Investigation Division Business Card Case and Keychain, all housed in an exclusive chipboard artbox.

Overall, “PSYCHO-PASS” is a sci-fi crime thriller with cool characters, a captivating and also excitingly dark storyline and awesome animation from Production I.G.

And for fans of the series, if you love “PSYCHO-PASS”, then you will definitely want to check out the “PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection – Premium Edition”!  Highly recommended!

Blood-C: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Blood-C” is an animated series that does continue the “Blood” series by name, features a wonderful collaboration between Production I.G. and CLAMP and as expected, the animation and art backgrounds looks fantastic and is also well-acted for both the Japanese soundtrack and the English dub.   Unfortunately, I was disappointed with how “Blood-C” ended but I just hope that the reason why it ended the way it did, was to set things up for the animated film “Blood-C: The Last Dark”.

Images courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Blood-C: The Complete Series

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 14+

Release Date: January 22, 2013

Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima

Screenplay by Juni’Ichi Fujisaku, Nanase Ohkawa

Music by Naoki Sato

Original Story by CLAMP

Original Character Design by CLAMP

Art Director: Hiromasa Ogura

Chief Animation Director: Takayuki Goto

Anime Production: Production I.G.

Featuring the voices of:

Keiji Fujiwara/Bill Jenkins as Tadayoshi Kisaragi

Kenji Nojima/Robert McCollum as Fumito Nanahara

Nana Mizuki/Alexis Tipton as Saya Kisaragi

Atsushi Abe/Chris Burnett as Itsuki Tomofusa

Jun Fukuyama/Todd Haberkorn as Dog

Masumi Asano/Martha Harms as Yūka Amino

Miho Miyagawa/Lydia Mackay as Kanako Tsutsutori

Misato Fukuen/Lindsay Seidel as Nene Motoe/Nono Motoe

Tatsuhisa Suzuki/Scott Freman as Shinichirō Tokizane

Horrifying beasts with a hunger for human flesh prey on the citizens of a quiet town. In moonlit twilight, Saya slays the monsters and returns home drenched in blood. As the attacks increase in frequency and intensity, her enemies relay cryptic messages about a broken contract. Limbs are torn from flesh and skulls are crushed and devoured while the huntress struggles with paralyzing visions and gaping holes in her memory.

When the humans Saya promised to protect reveal the sickening truth about her role in the violence, she learns her mission isn’t as clear cut as she thought – and her most sadistic foe of all is so close she can taste it.

Back in 2000, the animated film “Blood: The Last Vampire” was released in theaters and released in the United States.

The animated film set in 1966 was focused on a vampire named Saya who hunts down bat-like creatures known as chiropterans.  The animated film would eventually lead to a manga series “Blood: The Last Vampire 2000” and three Japanese light novels plus a video game.

In 2005, a 50-episode anime series titled “Blood+”, an alternate timeline would be featured and would focus on an amnesiac named Saya Otanashi who lives the life of an ordinary school girl.  Until she is attacked by a Chiropteran and finds out that she somehow can fight against them and is the only one that can defeat them.  This leads to a storyline with Saya, her family and friends trying to rid the world of the Chiropteran and her starting to remember her history.

In 2011, a new anime and manga series was created by this time by the famous manga creators, CLAMP.  The anime series was 12-episodes long while an animated film titled “Blood-C: The Last Dark” was released in the summer of 2012.

In “Blood-C”, the series focuses on Saya Kisaragi, a normal, clumsy schoolgirl who lives with her father, Tadayoshi, a priest in the local shrine.  She trains as a miko (a priestess) and has a secret life of learning a sacred sword and the “art of the sword” to slay Furukimono (monsters).

It is learned that Saya is following the path that her mother had done before she died.  But as time goes on, she is unsure about herself, her duties of fighting the monsters and her true self.

Meanwhile, more monster incidents are happening in town and people including friends are disappearing or are attacked and killed.  And the guilt of not being able to protect them begins to make Saya question her role even more.

VIDEO:

“Blood-C” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  With Production I.G. responsible for the production, I expected the series to look fantastic and for the most part, the animation does not disappoint.  Characters and monsters are incredibly well-shaded, art backgrounds have the Production I.G. quality of being amazingly detailed and for the most part, this series looks incredible.

But possibly the biggest surprise is that this is the first CLAMP anime series that doesn’t look like a CLAMP anime series.  Typically for CLAMP, characters proportions have long necks, long limbs and such, but for “Blood-C”, the characters look different.  If anything, the anime production is stylish, visually the series looks very cool and I like the character design of Saya.  She looks very innocent and pure but can easily transform to a killer.

AUDIO:

“Blood-C” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Because the English soundtrack gets the 5.1 treatment, there is better dynamic range with the English soundtrack, especially during the action sequences.  But both sound very good, dialogue is crisp and clear but the English dub does get the edge in terms of dynamic range due to its 5.1 soundtrack.  With that being said, for the English dub track, voice actress Alexis Tipton does a wonderful job playing the character Saya.  From playing a character with varying emotions, Tipton also gets to show off her singing voice as well.  Robert McCollum does an excellent job of playing Fumihito as well.

As for the Japanese soundtrack, you have one of Japan’s well-known voice actresses and anime theme song singers in Japan for the role of Saya.  Singer/voice actress Nana Mizuki (Fate Testarosa of “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanonha”, Hinata Hyuuga of “Naruto”, Victini of “Pokemon”) does an amazing job playing Saya and also singing the ending theme song for “Blood-C”.  Nana does a great job in capturing the various emotions of the character.  Also, Kenji Nojima does a great job playing Fumihito.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blood-C: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 6 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR director Jerry Jewell and Robert McCollum (voice of Fumihito).  Do not listen to the audio commentary before completing the series, as there are spoilers.
  • Episode 12 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR director Jerry Jewell and Alexis Tipton (voice of Saya).  Do not listen to the audio commentary before completing the series, as there are spoilers.
  • Original Commercials – (2:12) The Japanese TBS commercials for “Blood-C”.
  • Promotional Videos – (3:26) The Japanese promotional videos for “Blood-C”.
  • Textless Opening Songs for “Spiral” and “Junketsu Paradox”
  • Textless Closing Song for “Junketsu Paradox”
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:02) FUNimation trailer for “Blood-C: The Complete Series”.
  • Trailers – Featuring FUNimation trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Blood-C: The Complete Series” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.

The “Blood” series has always been popular for anime fans in the West.  A vampire storyline of a vampire who hunts down Chiropterans (bat-like creatures) and the Saya has always been a character where one can expect to kick some serious ass!

“Blood-C” felt like a series that you invest your time in and by the time you get to the final episode, you feel as if you have been punked!

While the animated film “Blood-C: The Last Dark” had received positive reviews, the television series was panned in Japan and I can see why.

First, I’m going to discuss the positive.  The positive of this series is the fact that Production I.G. has done a wonderful job when it comes to the animation and art backgrounds of this TV series.  Characters and even the chiroptherans are well-animated and shaded and the characters are nicely drawn.

Another positive is the voice acting.  In Japan, you have Nana Mizuki doing a stellar job on voice acting and also singing the ending theme for the series. I also felt the English dub was wonderful and it was great to hear Alexis Tipton in a role where she can really show off her voice talent.  From various emotional states to even singing, she did a fantastic job.

But while the animation, art and voice acting are well-done, the problem with “Blood-C” is its story.

I suppose part of the problem lies in the fact that if you have watched “Blood the Last Vampire”, watched “Blood+” and even watched the live-action film, you feel you know the series and how it was always about Saya taking on the chiropterans and you know that she is a character that is going to serve up a major ass kicking.

But somehow, it seemed as if the writers saved that for the animated film instead.

By episode 8, you find out that nearly every classmate by Saya was killed by a chiropteran and just when you think that you’re going to see the Saya (that we have seen in the previous incarnations of “Blood) in major kick-ass mode, we get a major reveal that you don’t expect and I must say, it really felt like a kick in the gut.

In fact, I’m not going to even get into it but I just felt that for something that was carrying a lot of potential by episode 8, it just went downhill from there.  I rarely get frustrated by watching an anime series, but this series left me frustrated.

Especially if you have been a fan of the “Blood” series, from “Blood+” to “Blood-C”, it was disappointing because I was expecting something big after episode 8 but instead, the story just went downhill.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Blood-C” looks fantastic on Blu-ray and the English lossless soundtrack has the edge because it’s in 5.1 and has better dynamic range. The Blu-ray also has two audio commentaries and the Japanese commercials and promotional video.

Overall, “Blood-C” is an animated series that does continue the “Blood” series by name, features a wonderful collaboration between Production I.G. and CLAMP and as expected, the animation and art backgrounds looks fantastic and is also well-acted for both the Japanese soundtrack and the English dub.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with how “Blood-C” ended but I just hope that the reason why it ended the way it did, was to set things up for the animated film “Blood-C: The Last Dark”.  If you want a “Blood” series that is exciting and entertaining, “Blood+” is much better.

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