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Fate/Grand Order First Order (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” may be a shorter animated film that is more about promoting the popular Android/iOS video game and expanding on the prologue, but even for an alternate universe storyline featuring a few of the “Fate/stay night” characters, it’s still an entertaining, action-packed animated film worth watching.

Image courtesy of © Type Moon. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fate/Grand Order First Order

DURATION: 72 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), Linear PCM English and Japanese Dolby 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 24, 2017


Original Concept by Kinoko Nasu

Directed by Hitoshi Nanba

Script: Ayumi Sekine

Music by Ryo Kawasaki

Original Character Design by Arco Wada, Mata, PFALZ, Takashi Takeuchi

Art Director: Takuya Ebisawa

Chief Animation Director: Keiksuke Goto

Anime Production: Lay-Duce


Featuring the following voice talent:

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Griffin Burns as Ritsuka Fujimaru

Rie Takahashi/Erica Mendez as Mash Kyrielight

Ayako Kawasumi/Kari Wahlgren as Artoria Pendragon (Alter)

Ayako Kawasumi as Fou

Junichi Suwabe/Kaiji Tang as Emiya

Kenichi Suzumura/Xander Mobius as Romani Archaman

Madoka Yonezawa/Kira Buckland as Olga Marie Animusphere

Nobutoshi Canna/Tony Oliver as Cú Chulainn

Tomokazu Sugita/Jalen K. Cassell as Lev Lainur

Yuu Asakawa/Melissa Fahn as Medusa


The year AD 2017.
The last era in which magecraft still thrived.

The Chaldea Security Organization was founded to ensure the continuation of human history. They survey a world which magecraft couldn’t observe and science couldn’t measure all to prevent the certain extinction of humanity.

But one day, the future that Chaldea continued to observe disappears and humanity’s extinction in 2019 becomes clear. Rather, it had already happened.

The cause seems to be related to Fuyuki, a provincial town in Japan, in the year AD 2004. There, an “unobservable region” that had not existed before appears.

Based on the assumption that Fuyuki is the reason for humanity’s extinction, Chaldea issues an order to explore, investigate, and possibly destroy this singularity – a quest for the Holy Grail, the Grand Order.


Back in 2015, the online free-to-play RPG game “Fate/Grand Order” (based on the Fate/stay night visual novel game by Type-Moon) was created for Android and iOS.

In 2016, anime studio Lay-duce created an animated television film titled “Fate/Grand Order: First Order” which is an adaptation of the game’s prologue.

The film is directed by Hitoshi Nanba (“Dash! Yonkuro”, “Golden Kamuy”, “Jungle no Ouja Taa-chan”), screenplay by Ayumi Sekine (“Dusk maiden of Amnesia”, “Idolish 7”, “Aldnoah.Zero”), music by Ryo Kawasaki (“Altair: A Record of Battles”, “Reikenzan: Eichi e no Shikaku”), character design by Keisuke Goto (“Gatchaman Crowds”, Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee”, “Yatterman”) and art direction by Takuya Ebisawa (“Afro Samurai: Resurrection”, “Eureka Seven”, “Glass Fleet”).

And now the animated film will be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America.

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” begins with a girl named Mash Lyrielight looking for her pet squirrel, Fou-san.  Fou-san rests upon a sleeping Fujimaru Ritsuka at an observatory built for the future of mankind located inside the Chaldea Security Organization.

The last thing that Fujimaru remembers is taking part in a test on the Spiriton Dive for rayshifting and that he has the potential to make a contract with a servant.

Mash explains that Chaldea Security Organization wants to ensure that humanity continues and how a mini-Earth was created inside Chaldea and that it would lead to life for 100 years but now the Earth is starting to fade and that mankind may end in 2018.  A new calamity, spacial singularity F has started to show up in Japan and is possibly the reason why mankind is fading.

So, Rayshifting allows people to go into the past in hopes to find out what may be causing to the decline of humanity and destroy it.

Fujimaru meets a Mage engineer named Leff Lynor, who happened to develop the Near-Future Observation Lens called Shiva.

The two head to a briefing held by Olga Marie Animusphere, a young woman who comes from the Mage family but because he falls asleep, he is kicked out of the briefing.  Fujimaru ends up meeting Dr. Roman and while the two are talking, an accident takes place and many people in the briefing are killed, while Mash is crushed by debris.

Fujimaru stays with her and a Rayshift process takes place and the two and Fou-san are sent to Fuyuki City, Japan in the year 2004.

Immediately, Fujimaru is attacked by Archer and Mash, in her Servant gear, protects him with her huge shield.  They then see Olga under attack from a skeleton army and Mash goes to help.

Olga receives a message from Dr. Roman that 47 potential Masters are in critical condition and will be put in cryo.

Mash who was killed by the falling debris was given an opportunity to live on as a Demi-Servant because she helped with investigating Singularity F and Fujimaru is now her master.

As the three search around, they come across Medusa Lancer who is turning humans to stone and killing them, and Lancer ends up trapping the three with her chains but is rescued by Caster.

Caster exlpains to everyone that during the last Holy Grail War, there was a fire in Fuyuki City and many humans were killed while leaving their Servants alive.  Saber Alter would corrupt Archer, Assassin Lancer, Rider and Berserker with a dark shadow.  And Archer and Caster are the only ones that have not yet been defeated.

The three decide to help Caster in hopes to resolve the Singularity F issue, but will it work?


VIDEO:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16 x 9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done, characters are well-shaded and for the most part, the anime series looks fantastic in HD!  I didn’t notice any major banding issues or artifacts.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in Linear PCM English and Japanese 2.0. The anime is well-acted both in Japanese and English.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” comes with  the Fate/Grand Order Game Opening (1:37), Fate/Grand Order Announcement Trailer (2:04), eight trailers featuring a servant character, First Order Dub PV (1:27), First Order Cast Interview (13:50) with English dub voice talents Tony Oliver (Caster), Erica Mendez (Mash) and Griffin Burns (Fujimura).

EXTRAS:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” comes with a 30-track (42-minute) CD soundtrack and a 20-page booklet.


I have been a big fan of the “Fate/stay night” Type-Moon Japanese visual novels, anime series and video games.

So, with the announcement back in 2015 of a “Fate/Grand Order” Android/iOS game, I was a little giddy.  The cool thing about this game is that it would be a reboot of the original Fate/Apocrypha project from 2012 and is meant to be a parallel world to “Fate/stay night” and “Fate/Grand Order” is mean to expand the prologue to the video game.

So, some fans may find the animated television film to be a bit short, considering “Fate/stay night” has received longer television seasons or an animated film, but at 70-minutes long, the story focuses on another timeline where humanity is supposed to be wiped out in 2018.

And we see the Chaldea Security Organization trying to extend humanity while trying to find out why these singularities are disrupting the continuation of human history and if they can send individuals who can rayshift (time-travel).

The anime series focuses on two individuals, Fujimaru and his demi-servant Mash, who come across the servant characters that many may be familiar with in “Fate/stay night” but seeing many of their favorites, especially the often good protagonist, Saber Alter, now corrupted by darkness.  And the two remaining servants are Caster and Archer who need to battle to the death (there is also an appearance of Medusa in a brief battle).

While entertaining, it’s a film that is meant to introduce people to the primary characters of “Fate/Grand Order” and then people can jump on aboard and find out how the story ends by playing the video game.

Overall, animation is well done.  Lay-Duce did a magnificent job with the animation, character design and background art.  Animation is vibrant and colorful, while lossless audio is presented in LPCM Stereo in Japanese and English.  Voice acting is well-done for both soundtracks and dialogue and music is crystal clear.

There are numerous special features, primarily trailers, but you do get a cool interview featuring Tony Oliver (ADR Director and voice of Caster), Erica Mendez (voice of Mash) and Griffin Burns (voice of Fujimaru).  But another cool addition to this release is that it comes with a 20-page booklet and CD soundtrack.

Overall, “Fate/Grand Order First Order” may be a shorter animated film that is more about promoting the popular Android/iOS video game and expanding on the prologue, but even for an alternate universe storyline featuring a few of the “Fate/stay night” characters, it’s still an entertaining, action-packed animated film worth watching.

 

The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The fourth volume of “The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining as we get two different types of episode arcs, one full of action as Ayato and Julis make it into the finals of the Phoenix Festa, Saya and Kirin must save Flora from her kidnappers and the final episodes featuring Ayato, Julis and friends visiting Julis’ home country, Lieseltania and more trouble stands in their way. If you have commited yourself to watching this series, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4” is recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of © 2017 FlyingDog, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 19-24) 150 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English and Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

Release Date: February 21, 2017


Originally created by Yuu Miyazaki

Original Character Design by okiura

Chief Direction by Manabu Ono

Directed by Kenji Sato

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Yuki Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Rasmus Faber

Character Design by Tetsuya Kawakami

Art Director: Yukihiro Watanabe

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Kawakami

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Kakuma/Kira Buckland as Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt

Atsushi Tamaru/Erik Scott Kimerer as Ayato Amagiri

Ari Ozawa/Brianna Knickerbocker as Kirin Todo

Ayana Taketatsu/Cherami Leigh as Pham Thi Tram (Fan Xinglou)

Chinatsu Akasaki/Cassandra Morris as Ernesta Kuhne

Haruka Chisuga as Sylvia Lyyneheym

Haruka Yoshimura as RM-C (Rimsy)

Juri Nagatsuma as Priscilla Urzaiz

Mai Nakahara/Michelle Ruff as Haruka Amagiri

Mutsumi Tamura/Cristina Vee as Camilla Pareto

Nao Tōyama/Erika Harlacher as Claudia Enfield

Nobuo Tobita/Lucien Dodge as Shuma Sakon


Based on the hit light novel by Yuu Miyazaki and directed by Manabu Ono (The irregular at magic high school), the Phoenix Festa is reaching its final climax!

During the search for Flora, Ayato runs into a mysterious girl who later turns out to be the student council president of Queenvail Girls’ Academy – Sylvia Lyyneheym. With Sylvia’s help, Ayato and Julis can now face AR-D and RM-C in the Phoenix Festa final match with all their strength. After the Festa, Julis invites Ayato and the crew to her hometown of Lieseltania, where Ayato learns a shocking truth.


The tournament’s final matchup between Ayato and Julis vs. AR-D and RM-C. Who will be the victors?

Meanwhile, Saya and Kirin try to rescue Flora from her kidnappers.

In the final episodes, what happens when Ayato, Julis, Claudia, saya and Kirin travel to Lieseltania for winter break?  But what is this fighting tournament, Gryps Festa all about?

What is “The Asterisk War” about?

In 2012, writer Yuu Miyazaki and illustrator okiura created the Japanese light novel series “The Asterisk War” (Gakusen Toshi Asutarisuku).

Published by Media factory, a two-volume manga adaptation was then created for Media Factory’s “Monthly Comic Alive”.

In 2015, A-1 Pictures would create an anime TV series adaptation with two seasons having now been completed.

And now, the anime series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc. With volume 3, this limited edition box set features the first episodes of the second season (episodes 13-18).

The anime is set in the 20th century and an event called Invertia has destroyed many cities on Earth. Because of the collapsing economy, the Integrated Enterprise Foundation has become the leader of the world.

A parallel city of Rikka, known as Asterisk is the the main setting of this anime series.

Asterisk has six academies which hold tournaments, known as “Festas” in which humans and people with super abilities called Genestella participate in battle against each other.

Seidoukan Academy is ranked fifth in Asterik and the series focuses on main protagonist Ayato Amagiri, a Genestella, who is investigating the disappearance of his sister Haruka.

On his first day of school, he meets a student (who happens to be a Lieseltanian princess) named Julis-Alexia von Riessfeld. And due to circumstances because he is new at the academy (which make him seem like a pervert), he is challenged to a duel against her.

The two get into battle and she is amazed by Ayato’s fighting ability and superpowers but the battle is ended when someone tries to send a spike towards Julis-Alexia and she is saved by Ayato (who, unfortunately lands on top of her and his hand on top of her chest).

The battle is ended early by Seidoukan Academy’s Student Council President Claudia Enfield because the match was not legal.

And who is this Kirin Todou that Ayato meets for the first time? And why is her uncle abusive towards her and how will Ayato make an impact on her life?

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Festa featuring a battle between duos and Ayato and Julis and their friends Saya and Kirin will face the strongest fighters from the other five schools.

For the second half of season two (episodes 19-24), Ayato and Julis must take on the powerful, devastating robotic duo, AR-D and RM-C.

Meanwhile, someone has kidnapped Flora and as Ayato and Julis must complete in the Phoenix Festa, this leaves Saya and Kirin to go after Flora.

Also, Ayato, Julis, Claudia, Saya and Kirin travel to Liseltania but what they discover is something quite sinister.

Enter…Ophelia and Gustave and also what is Gryps Festa?


“The Asterisk War” features the following characters:

  • Ayato Amagiri – A Seidoukan Academy student who transfers to the school to investigate his sister’s disappearance. He shows great power but can only control it for several minutes. He wants to protect Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt.
  • Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt – The fifth ranking student of Seidokan Academy and happens to be the First Princess of Lieseltania in the western Czech Republic. She is quite distant to everyone at the school but when Ayato tries to get close with her and wanting to protect her, she eventually starts to warm up to him.
  • Claudia Enfield – The blonde, buxom, second highest ranking student of Seidoukan Academy and also the Student council President. She tries her best to seduce Ayato.
  • Saya Sasamiya – A childhood friend of Ayato who moved abroad. She is an airhead at times and bad with directions. She is great with weapons and artillery and often gets Julis riled up as Saya prefers Ayato to spend time with her.
  • Kirin Toudou – The top ranking student of Seidoukan Academy. Because Ayato shows kindness to her all the time, she becomes a friend of his. But as she vies for Ayato’s attention, she deals with a demanding and abusive uncle.

VIDEO:

“The Asterisk War” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant. There is slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by A-1 Pictures.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Asterisk War” is presented in English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0. Both soundtracks are well-acted and are crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Asterisk War vol. 4” features the following special features:

  • Bonus Preview Episodes – Bonus preview episodes.
  • Web Previews
  • Textless Opening and Ending Song

EXTRAS:

“The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4” comes with a slipcase with package illustration by Tetsuya Kawakami, clear cases with 2-side wraps, six collectible pinup cards, a 40-page deluxe booklet about the characters, sketches and more. Also, a bonus disc (CD included, Duration: 22 minutes) featuring “The Asterisk War Soundtrack – Expanded Universe #4” featuring one music track.


With the final half of the second season of “The Asterisk War” in vol. 4, the tournament concludes as Ayato and Julis must take on the robotic duo, AR-D and RM-C in the finals. And because Flora has been kidnapped and Ayato and Julis are preoccupied, Saya and Kirin must try to save Flora from her kidnappers.

With this fourth volume, we also find out what has happened to Ayato’s missng sister, Haruka.

And a new storyline begins with Ayato, Julis, Claudia, Saya and Kirin travel to Listeltania for winter break.  But as they arrive, Claudia asks if they can form a team of five for the upcoming Gryps Festa.

Meanwhile, Julis has her own reasons for returning to Lieseltania.

While vol. 4 is more of a tournament-driven, action-packed volume, the final three episodes become more dramatic and story-driven as it centers around Julis’ return to her hometown of Lieseltania.

Which leaves fans of the anime series hoping that a season three will be coming soon.

As for the animation, as always, A-1 Pictures does a magnificent job with character designs, action sequences and for the most part, background art and lighting effects are well-done.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good stereo solid lossless soundtrack. Which are well-acted for both Japanese soundtracks and the English dub. Special features are your typical previews and opening and ending theme. But you do get slipcase, six collectible pin up cards, a third CD with a 22-minute soundtrack and 34-page deluxe booklet. So, there is quite a bit of swag included with “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4”.

Overall, the fourth volume of “The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining as we get two different types of episode arcs, one full of action as Ayato and Julis make it into the finals of the Phoenix Festa, Saya and Kirin must save Flora from her kidnappers and the final episodes featuring Ayato, Julis and friends visiting Julis’ home country, Lieseltania and more trouble stands in their way.

If you have commited yourself to watching this series, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 4” is recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining as Ayato and Julis, Saya and Kirin must take on their most powerful rivals in the tournament yet as they close in on the semifinals. How will these two fighting duos do in the Phoenix Festa competition? Find out in the exciting, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3”. Recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of © 2017 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 13-18) 150 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English and Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

Release Date: February 21, 2017


Originally created by Yuu Miyazaki

Original Character Design by okiura

Chief Direction by Manabu Ono

Directed by Kenji Sato

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Yuki Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Rasmus Faber

Character Design by Tetsuya Kawakami

Art Director: Yukihiro Watanabe

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Kawakami

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Kakuma/Kira Buckland as Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt

Atsushi Tamaru/Erik Scott Kimerer as Ayato Amagiri

Ari Ozawa/Brianna Knickerbocker as Kirin Todo

Ayana Taketatsu/Cherami Leigh as Pham Thi Tram (Fan Xinglou)

Chinatsu Akasaki/Cassandra Morris as Ernesta Kuhne

Haruka Chisuga as Sylvia Lyyneheym

Haruka Yoshimura as RM-C (Rimsy)

Juri Nagatsuma as Priscilla Urzaiz

Mai Nakahara/Michelle Ruff as Haruka Amagiri

Mutsumi Tamura/Cristina Vee as Camilla Pareto

Nao Tōyama/Erika Harlacher as Claudia Enfield

Nobuo Tobita/Lucien Dodge as Shuma Sakon


After successfully destroying the Gravi-Sheath, Ayato and Julis free the Urzaiz sisters from their shackles. However, Ayato’s side effect of forcefully releasing the seal and its time limit are now known to the other teams. As the Phoenix Festa finals continue, Julis must come up with a strategy to cover for Ayato’s inability to fight at full strength due to the seal’s side effect. Will Ayato and Julis be able to survive in the Festa?


The tournament continues as Ayato and Julis must now fight Song Ran and Zhou Kunzhan of Jie Long.  And Saya and Kirin’s semifinal match is against AR-D and RM-C.  Who will be the victors?

What is “The Asterisk War” about?

In 2012, writer Yuu Miyazaki and illustrator okiura created the Japanese light novel series “The Asterisk War” (Gakusen Toshi Asutarisuku).

Published by Media factory, a two-volume manga adaptation was then created for Media Factory’s “Monthly Comic Alive”.

In 2015, A-1 Pictures would create an anime TV series adaptation with two seasons having now been completed.

And now, the anime series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc. With volume 3, this limited edition box set features the first episodes of the second season (episodes 13-18).

The anime is set in the 20th century and an event called Invertia has destroyed many cities on Earth. Because of the collapsing economy, the Integrated Enterprise Foundation has become the leader of the world.

A parallel city of Rikka, known as Asterisk is the the main setting of this anime series.

Asterisk has six academies which hold tournaments, known as “Festas” in which humans and people with super abilities called Genestella participate in battle against each other.

Seidoukan Academy is ranked fifth in Asterik and the series focuses on main protagonist Ayato Amagiri, a Genestella, who is investigating the disappearance of his sister Haruka.

On his first day of school, he meets a student (who happens to be a Lieseltanian princess) named Julis-Alexia von Riessfeld. And due to circumstances because he is new at the academy (which make him seem like a pervert), he is challenged to a duel against her.

The two get into battle and she is amazed by Ayato’s fighting ability and superpowers but the battle is ended when someone tries to send a spike towards Julis-Alexia and she is saved by Ayato (who, unfortunately lands on top of her and his hand on top of her chest).

The battle is ended early by Seidoukan Academy’s Student Council President Claudia Enfield because the match was not legal.

And who is this Kirin Todou that Ayato meets for the first time? And why is her uncle abusive towards her and how will Ayato make an impact on her life?

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Festa featuring a battle between duos and Ayato and Julis and their friends Saya and Kirin will face the strongest fighters from the other five schools.

For the first episodes of season two (episodes 13-18), Ayato and Julis must take on the powerful Song Ran and Zhou Kunzhan in order to move into the semi-finals.  While Saya and Kirin must take on the devastating robotic duo, AR-D and RM-C.

Meanwhile, someone has kidnapped Flora.  Who is responsible?


“The Asterisk War” features the following characters:

  • Ayato Amagiri – A Seidoukan Academy student who transfers to the school to investigate his sister’s disappearance. He shows great power but can only control it for several minutes. He wants to protect Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt.
  • Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt – The fifth ranking student of Seidokan Academy and happens to be the First Princess of Lieseltania in the western Czech Republic. She is quite distant to everyone at the school but when Ayato tries to get close with her and wanting to protect her, she eventually starts to warm up to him.
  • Claudia Enfield – The blonde, buxom, second highest ranking student of Seidoukan Academy and also the Student council President. She tries her best to seduce Ayato.
  • Saya Sasamiya – A childhood friend of Ayato who moved abroad. She is an airhead at times and bad with directions. She is great with weapons and artillery and often gets Julis riled up as Saya prefers Ayato to spend time with her.
  • Kirin Toudou – The top ranking student of Seidoukan Academy. Because Ayato shows kindness to her all the time, she becomes a friend of his. But as she vies for Ayato’s attention, she deals with a demanding and abusive uncle.

VIDEO:

“The Asterisk War” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant. There is slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by A-1 Pictures.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Asterisk War” is presented in English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0. Both soundtracks are well-acted and are crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Asterisk War vol. 3” features the following special features:

  • Bonus Preview Episodes – Bonus preview episodes.
  • Web Previews
  • Textless Opening and Ending Song

EXTRAS:

“The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3” comes with a slipcase with package illustration by Tetsuya Kawakami, clear cases with 2-side wraps, six collectible pinup cards, a 40-page deluxe booklet about the characters, sketches and more. Also, a bonus third disc (CD included, Duration: 12:17) featuring “The Asterisk War Soundtrack – Infusion Mix #2” featuring one music track.


As the beginning of the second season of “The Asterisk War” begins in vol. 3, the tournament continues as Ayato and Julis and Saya and Kirin take on their next competitors.

Ayato and Julis must take on Song Ran and Zhou Kunzhan of Jie Long in order to make it to the semi-final.  While Saya and Kirin must take on the robotic duo, AR-D and RM-C in the semifinal.  Meanwhile, Flora has been kidnapped.

A lot has changed since the first season as Ayato and Julis have become partners who trust each other and watch each other’s back, while Saya and Kirin, who seemed like a duo with nothing in common, also have grown as partners.  But both groups must take on their most dangerous rivals yet.

While vol. 3 is more of a tournament-driven, action-packed volume, we do get backstory on Camilla.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the battle progresses as now we head into the final episodes of “The Asterisk War” season two.

As for the animation, as always, A-1 Pictures does a magnificent job with character designs, action sequences and for the most part, background art and lighting effects are well-done.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good stereo solid lossless soundtrack. Which are well-acted for both Japanese soundtracks and the English dub. Special features are your typical previews and opening and ending theme. But you do get slipcase, collectible pin up cards, a third CD with a 13-minute soundtrack and 40-page deluxe booklet. So, there is quite a bit of swag included with “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3”.

Overall, “The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining as Ayato and Julis, Saya and Kirin must take on their most powerful rivals in the tournament yet as they close in on the semifinals. How will these two fighting duos do in the Phoenix Festa competition? Find out in the exciting, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 3”. Recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining. Things no doubt get better with the series with this second volume as Ayato and Julis must take on various competitors from other schools.  Who will become victorious in the Phoenix Festa competition?  Find out in the exciting, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2”.  Recommended!

Purchase from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of © 2016 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 7-12) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English and Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

Release Date: November 22, 2016


Originally created by Yuu Miyazaki

Original Character Design by okiura

Chief Direction by Manabu Ono

Directed by Kenji Sato

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Yuki Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Rasmus Faber

Character Design by Tetsuya Kawakami

Art Director: Yukihiro Watanabe

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Kawakami

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Kakuma/Kira Buckland as Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt

Atsushi Tamaru/Erik Scott Kimerer as Ayato Amagiri

Ari Ozawa/Brianna Knickerbocker as Kirin Todo

Ayana Taketatsu/Cherami Leigh as Pham Thi Tram (Fan Xinglou)

Chinatsu Akasaki/Cassandra Morris as Ernesta Kuhne

Haruka Chisuga as Sylvia Lyyneheym

Haruka Yoshimura as RM-C (Rimsy)

Juri Nagatsuma as Priscilla Urzaiz

Mai Nakahara/Michelle Ruff as Haruka Amagiri

Mutsumi Tamura/Cristina Vee as Camilla Pareto

Nao Tōyama/Erika Harlacher as Claudia Enfield

Nobuo Tobita/Lucien Dodge as Shuma Sakon


The Asterisk War Volume 2  contains episodes 7-12 plus packaging illustrated by Tetsuya Kawakami (character design).

The Phoenix Festa has finally started! Ayato and Julis will face the strongest fighters from the other five schools. Of their opponents, Irene Urzaiz from Rewolf Black Academy and the autonomous puppets, AR-D and RM-C, from Arlequint Academy are expected to be the most formidable. After Ayato saves Irene’s sister Priscilla from some Rewolf delinquents, he finds that their first battle will be against these sisters! Can Ayato and Julis defeat Irene who wields the Gravi-Sheath, a powerful Ser=Versta!?


Will Kirin be able to leave her abusive uncle?  And what happens when she teams up with Saya?

The Phoenix Festa featuring a battle between duos and Ayato and Julis will face the strongest fighters from the other five schools. Of their opponents, Irene Urzaiz from Rewolf Black Academy and the autonomous puppets, AR-D and RM-C, from Arlequint Academy are expected to be the most formidable.

What is “The Asterisk War” about?

In 2012, writer Yuu Miyazaki and illustrator okiura created the Japanese light novel series “The Asterisk War” (Gakusen Toshi Asutarisuku).

Published by Media factory, a two-volume manga adaptation was then created for Media Factory’s “Monthly Comic Alive”.

In 2015, A-1 Pictures would create an anime TV series adaptation with two seasons having now been completed.

And now, the anime series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc.

The anime is set in the 20th century and an event called Invertia has destroyed many cities on Earth. Because of the collapsing economy, the Integrated Enterprise Foundation has become the leader of the world.

A parallel city of Rikka, known as Asterisk is the the main setting of this anime series.

Asterisk has six academies which hold tournaments, known as “Festas” in which humans and people with super abilities called Genestella participate in battle against each other.

Seidoukan Academy is ranked fifth in Asterik and the series focuses on main protagonist Ayato Amagiri, a Genestella, who is investigating the disappearance of his sister Haruka.

On his first day of school, he meets a student (who happens to be a Lieseltanian princess) named Julis-Alexia von Riessfeld. And due to circumstances because he is new at the academy (which make him seem like a pervert), he is challenged to a duel against her.

The two get into battle and she is amazed by Ayato’s fighting ability and superpowers but the battle is ended when someone tries to send a spike towards Julis-Alexia and she is saved by Ayato (who, unfortunately lands on top of her and his hand on top of her chest).

The battle is ended early by Seidoukan Academy’s Student Council President Claudia Enfield because the match was not legal.

And who is this Kirin Todou that Ayato meets for the first time?  And why is her uncle abusive towards her and how will Ayato make an impact on her life?

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Festa featuring a battle between duos and Ayato and Julis will face the strongest fighters from the other five schools. Of their opponents, Irene Urzaiz from Rewolf Black Academy and the autonomous puppets, AR-D and RM-C, from Arlequint Academy will no doubt become difficult.  But can Ayato and Julis defeat them?


“The Asterisk War” features the following characters:

  • Ayato Amagiri – A Seidoukan Academy student who transfers to the school to investigate his sister’s disappearance. He shows great power but can only control it for several minutes. He wants to protect Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt.
  • Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt – The fifth ranking student of Seidokan Academy and happens to be the First Princess of Lieseltania in the western Czech Republic. She is quite distant to everyone at the school but when Ayato tries to get close with her and wanting to protect her, she eventually starts to warm up to him.
  • Claudia Enfield – The blonde, buxom, second highest ranking student of Seidoukan Academy and also the Student council President. She tries her best to seduce Ayato.
  • Saya Sasamiya – A childhood friend of Ayato who moved abroad. She is an airhead at times and bad with directions. She is great with weapons and artillery and often gets Julis riled up as Saya prefers Ayato to spend time with her.
  • Kirin Toudou – The top ranking student of Seidoukan Academy. Because Ayato shows kindness to her all the time, she becomes a friend of his. But as she vies for Ayato’s attention, she deals with a demanding and abusive uncle.

VIDEO:

“The Asterisk War” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant. There is slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by A-1 Pictures.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Asterisk War” is presented in English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0. Both soundtracks are well-acted and are crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Asterisk War” features the following special features:

  • Bonus Preview Episodes – Bonus preview episodes for episode 8-12.
  • Web Previews
  • Textless Opening, Prologue and Ending Song

EXTRAS:

“The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2” comes with a slipcase with package illustration by Tetsuya Kawakami, clear cases with 2-side wraps, six collectible pinup cards, a 40-page deluxe booklet about the characters, sketches and more. Also, a bonus third disc (CD included, Duration: 23:00) featuring “The Asterisk War Soundtrack – Expanded Universe #1” by Rasmus Faber featuring 12 music tracks.


For those who love action-drive anime series, the first volume of “The Asterisk War” shows great potential with its interesting characters (each with their own special skillset) and it’s good balance of humor, action and for those who enjoy, fan service, you get a little of that as well.

For some anime fans, they may find it quite banal as it may feel similar to “The irregular at magic high school” minutes the brother/sister characters.

Everything takes place in the school, students are often challenging each other and the power of the main protagonist is amazing. But you have a main protagonist who is your usual nice guy, wanting to protect the people he cares about. A main female tsundere character who is amazed by the main protagonists kindness and good intentions. And you also have a group of characters that are fun, others who are mysterious and so, I can see people who may be turned off by the series feeling too similar.

Ayato Amagiri has similarities to Kirito of “Sword Art Online”, Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt has a tsundere attitude similar to Chitoge Kirisaki of “Nisekoi”, Claudia Enfield is your usual flirtation, buxom character trying to seduce the protagonist, you have tech-loving and naive Saya Sasamiya and the shy but excellent fighter, Kirin Toudou.

And as the second volume starts to show that slight harem style anime as the female characters try to fight for Ayato’s attention, the second volume is an action-packed volume as the Phoenix Festa begins and various schools compete.

And one team catches Ayato and Julis’ attention, the team of Irene Urzaiz and Priscilla of Le Wolfe.  But what is it about Irene that makes her extremely powerful?  And why is defeating Ayato so important to her?

As the first season ends with a cliffhanger and also uncertainty, it no doubt sets up the episodes for the second season of “The Asterisk War”.

As for the animation, as always, A-1 Pictures does a magnificent job with character designs, action sequences and for the most part, background art and lighting effects are well-done.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good stereo solid lossless soundtrack. Which are well-acted for both Japanese soundtracks and the English dub. Special features are your typical previews and opening and ending theme. But you do get slipcase, collectible pin up cards, a third CD with a 23-minute soundtrack and 40-page deluxe booklet. So, there is quite a bit of swag included with “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2”.

Overall, “The Asterisk War” is action-packed and entertaining. Things no doubt get better with the series with this second volume as Ayato and Julis must take on various competitors from other schools.  Who will become victorious in the Phoenix Festa competition?  Find out in the exciting, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 2”.  Recommended!

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The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 1 ” is action-packed and entertaining. It’s characters and storyline may feel reminiscent of other anime series but the series does show a lot of promise and I look forward to seeing how the characters and the storyline evolve in vol. 2. “The Asterisk War” is an anime worth checking out!

Purchase from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of © 2016 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 1

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-6) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English and Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

Release Date: September 20, 2016


Originally created by Yuu Miyazaki

Original Character Design by okiura

Chief Direction by Manabu Ono

Directed by Kenji Sato

Script by Munemasa Nakamoto, Yuki Sugawara, Yukito Kizawa

Music by Rasmus Faber

Character Design by Tetsuya Kawakami

Art Director: Yukihiro Watanabe

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Kawakami

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Kakuma/Kira Buckland as Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt

Atsushi Tamaru/Erik Scott Kimerer as Ayato Amagiri

Ari Ozawa/Brianna Knickerbocker as Kirin Todo

Ayana Taketatsu/Cherami Leigh as Pham Thi Tram (Fan Xinglou)

Chinatsu Akasaki/Cassandra Morris as Ernesta Kuhne

Haruka Chisuga as Sylvia Lyyneheym

Haruka Yoshimura as RM-C (Rimsy)

Juri Nagatsuma as Priscilla Urzaiz

Mai Nakahara/Michelle Ruff as Haruka Amagiri

Mutsumi Tamura/Cristina Vee as Camilla Pareto

Nao Tōyama/Erika Harlacher as Claudia Enfield

Nobuo Tobita/Lucien Dodge as Shuma Sakon


Invertia–The astral catastrophe that annihilated many cities in the 20th century also gave birth to a new human race with special powers called the “Genestella.” At the same time, the special element found within the meteors of Invertia facilitated humanity’s technological advancement.

At the academic-city above water Rikka, also known as “Asterisk,” students from each of the six schools at Asterisk prepare for the ultimate battle tournament — known as “Festa.” Seidoukan Academy’s Ayato Amagiri takes up the challenge along with his partner Julis, a.k.a. Glühen Rose, the Witch of the Resplendent Flames. Ayato learns Julis has a big dream to achieve and decides to protect her to the end.


In 2012, writer Yuu Miyazaki and illustrator okiura created the Japanese light novel series “The Asterisk War” (Gakusen Toshi Asutarisuku).

Published by Media factory, a two-volume manga adaptation was then created for Media Factory’s “Monthly Comic Alive”.

In 2015, A-1 Pictures would create an anime TV series adaptation with two seasons having now been completed.

And now, the anime series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc.  The first six episodes of the 24-episode series, will be featured in the first volume.

The anime is set in the 20th century and an event called Invertia has destroyed many cities on Earth.  Because of the collapsing economy, the Integrated Enterprise Foundation has become the leader of the world.

A parallel city of Rikka, known as Asterisk is the the main setting of this anime series.

Asterisk has six academies which hold tournaments, known as “Festas” in which humans and people with super abilities called Genestella participate in battle against each other.

Seidoukan Academy is ranked fifth in Asterik and the series focuses on main protagonist Ayato Amagiri, a Genestella, who is investigating the disappearance of his sister Haruka.

On his first day of school, he meets a student (who happens to be a Lieseltanian princess) named Julis-Alexia von Riessfeld.  And due to circumstances because he is new at the academy (which make him seem like a pervert),  he is challenged to a duel against her.

The two get into battle and she is amazed by Ayato’s fighting ability and superpowers but the battle is ended when someone tries to send a spike towards Julis-Alexia and she is saved by Ayato (who, unfortunately lands on top of her and his hand on top of her chest).

The battle is ended early by Seidoukan Academy’s Student Council President Claudia Enfield because the match was not legal.

But as Ayato continues to fight and find a reason for using his special power, what will he discover about himself?  And who is responsible for attacking Seidoukan students?  And who is this Kirin Todou that Ayato meets for the first time?

All this and more in the first volume of “The Asterisk War”!


“The Asterisk War” features the following characters:

  • Ayato Amagiri – A Seidoukan Academy student who transfers to the school to investigate his sister’s disappearance. He shows great power but can only control it for several minutes.  He wants to protect Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt.
  • Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt – The fifth ranking student of Seidokan Academy and happens to be the First Princess of Lieseltania in the western Czech Republic.  She is quite distant to everyone at the school but when Ayato tries to get close with her and wanting to protect her, she eventually starts to warm up to him.
  • Claudia Enfield – The blonde, buxom, second highest ranking student of Seidoukan Academy and also the Student council President.  She tries her best to seduce Ayato.
  • Saya Sasamiya – A childhood friend of Ayato who moved abroad.  She is an airhead at times and bad with directions.  She is great with weapons and artillery and often gets Julis riled up as Saya prefers Ayato to spend time with her.
  • Kirin Toudou – The top ranking student of Seidoukan Academy. Because Ayato shows kindness to her all the time, she becomes a friend of his.  But as she vies for Ayato’s attention, she deals with a demanding and abusive uncle.

VIDEO:

“The Asterisk War” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant. There is slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by A-1 Pictures.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Asterisk War” is presented in English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0.  Both soundtracks are well-acted and are crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Asterisk War” features the following special features:

  • Bonus Preview Episodes – Bonus preview episodes for episode 2-7.
  • Web Previews
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Ending Song 1 & 2
  • Textless Prologue

EXTRAS:

“The Asterisk War” comes with a slipcase with package illustration by Tetsuya Kawakami, clear cases with 2-side wraps, six collectible pinup cards, a 40-page deluxe booklet about the characters, sketches and more.  Also, a bonus third disc (CD included, Duration: 12:32) featuring “The Asterisk War Infusion Mix 1” by Rasmus Faber.


For those who love action-drive anime series, the first volume of “The Asterisk War” shows great potential with its interesting characters (each with their own special skillset) and it’s good balance of humor, action and for those who enjoy, fan service, you get a little of that as well.

For some anime fans, they may find it quite banal as it may feel similar to “The irregular at magic high school” minutes the brother/sister characters.

Everything takes place in the school, students are often challenging each other and the power of the main protagonist is amazing.  But you have a main protagonist who is your usual nice guy, wanting to protect the people he cares about.  A main female tsundere character who is amazed by the main protagonists kindness and good intentions.  And you also have a group of characters that are fun, others who are mysterious and so, I can see people who may be turned off by the series feeling too similar.

Ayato Amagiri has similarities to Kirito of “Sword Art Online”, Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt has a tsundere attitude similar to Chitoge Kirisaki of “Nisekoi”, Claudia Enfield is your usual flirtation, buxom character trying to seduce the protagonist, you have tech-loving and naive Saya Sasamiya and the shy but excellent fighter, Kirin Toudou.   How these characters evolve later in the series is what I look forward to watching.

But that’s just the first six episodes.  I found the series to be fun, action-packed and entertaining but would like to see how the characters and the storyline evolve.

As for the animation, as always, A-1 Pictures does a magnificent job with character designs, action sequences and for the most part, background art and lighting effects are well-done.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good stereo solid lossless soundtrack. Which are well-acted for both Japanese soundtracks and the English dub.  Special features are your typical previews and opening and ending theme.  But you do get slipcase, collectible pin up cards, a third CD with a 12-minute mix and 40-page deluxe booklet.  So, there is quite a bit of swag included with “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 1”.

Overall, “The Asterisk War: Limited Edition Blu-ray Vol. 1 ” is action-packed and entertaining.  It’s characters and storyline may feel reminiscent of other anime series but the series does show a lot of promise and I look forward to seeing how the characters and the storyline evolve in vol. 2.

“The Asterisk War” is an anime worth checking out!

Purchase from Rightstuf

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

aoi-movie-a

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!

Accel World: Set 01 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

accelworld

While “Accel World” is entertaining and much different from Reki Kawahara’s other famous work “Sword Art Online”, it’s an interesting concept with cool characters and a series that I found to be action-packed and quite delightful so far!  “Accel World: Set 01” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Reki Kawahara/ASCII MEDIA WORKS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Accel World: Set 01

ANIME SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: November 26, 2013

Originally Created by Reki Kawahara

Directed by Masakazu Obara

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Music by Hiroyuki Oshima

Character Design: HIMA

Art Director: Nobutaka Ike, Takafumi Nishima

Anime Production: Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Haruyuki Arita/Silver Crow

Sachika Misawa/Kira Buckland as Kuroyukihime/Black Lotus

Shintaro Asanuma/Lucien Dodge as Takumu Mayuzumi/Cyan Pile

Aki Toyosaki/Michelle T. Hseih as Chiyuri Kurashima/Lime Bell

The year is 2046. Portable devices known as Neurolinkers have enabled mankind to oversee their daily life within virtual reality networks. But the advancements in technology have yet to provide a solution for the growing number of victims of bullying.

Haruyuki Arita is one such student who finds himself on the lowest social rungs of his school. Ashamed of his miserable life, Haruyuki can only cope by indulging in virtual games. That all changes when Kuroyukihime, the most popular girl in school, approaches Haruyuki with a cryptic proposal: to “accelerate” further, and beyond.

 

Haruyuki is introduced to a mysterious program called Brain Burst and a virtual reality called the Accel World. Learning its secrets, Haruyuki musters the courage to accept Kuroyukihime’s proposal and to fight alongside her as her knight.

From Reki Kawahara, the creator of the hit novel series “Sword Art Online” comes the series “Accel World”, also a hit Japanese light novel series that earned Kawahara a “Grand Prize” as ASCII Media Works’ 15th Dengeki Novel Prize.

The popularity of “Accel World” would lead to several manga adaptations and eventually lead to an anime adaptation which aired in April-September 2012, and also would lead to an anime adaptation for “Sword Art Online”.

And now the first set of “Accel World” featuring the first 12 episodes is now currently available on Blu-ray courtesy of Viz Media.

“Accel World” is set in the year 2046 when Neuro-Synchronization allows humans to virtually manipulate their five senses and people can access the Internet and virtual world with a Neuro-Linker (typically worn around their neck).

The main protagonist of the series is Haruyuki “Haru” Arita, a short, overweight individual who is often bullied in school.  His only true friend is Chiyuri Kurashima, his childhood friend and also Takumu Mayuzumi, Chiyuri’s boyfriend.

No matter how much he is picked on, Chiyuri feels bad about how much Haru endures and she tries to make it up by preparing meals for him which he takes it as Chiyuri feeling pity towards him and ends up knocking the food she prepared for him.

Haru doesn’t know how to deal with the pressure of being bullied and what he did to Chiyuri, so he usually takes his frustration out in the virtual world in which his avatar is a small pink pig, which was forced on him by the school bullies.

But Haru is great at playing games, especially squash in which he has the highest score until he finds out that a person named Kuroyukihime had beaten it.

Kuroyukihime happens to be a powerful person on the online game with the name as Black Lotus.  A beautiful and popular Student Council Vice-President at Umesato Junior High School, Kuroyukihime has been a Burst Linker since she was eight-years old and she knows that Haru often gets bullied.

One day, she invites Haru to lunch and offers to cable with him (think going multi-player with a friend), which shocks many of the other students that someone so popular would hang out with Haru.

But while the two are communicating, she transfers a program called “Brain Burst” to him and after he installs it, his bully Araya shows up and is about to punch Haru for not showing up and buying him lunch like they usually force him to do.  But as Aray is about to punch him, she teaches Haru how to activate Brain Burst, and go into “Accelerated Mode”which accelerates the cognitive process of the brain and forces time around them to literally stop.

As Haru’s pig avatar comes out and Black Lotus comes out and both are looking at their own bodies and Haru about to be hit, she wants to stop Haru’s bullying so she tells him to fake being hit, to bump into her and this should end the bullying.  When they end the Accelerated Mode, Haru is hit and lands on Kuroyukihime who is hurt and bloodied by what happened and this leads to security detaining Araya.

Seeing this new mode has Haru quite interested in learning more from Kuroyukihime and he eventually learns that “Brain Burst” is a VRMMO fighting game and learns that other Burst Linkers must duel each other to obtain Burst Points, which can be spent on better acceleration powers.  Because of his low-self esteem, his avatar for the game is “Silver Crow”.  While Kuroyukihime allows him to go back to his normal life, Haru feels that he owes her for stopping the bullying but if he chooses to continue, they need to be closer together.

So close that Kuroyukihime wnats to further Haru’s popularity by telling her that she confessed his love to him and he rejected her, which of course makes Haru worry even more.  The news that the two are together starts to make Chiyuri worry that Kuroyukihime is using him, but Kuroyukihime tells her that they are dating each other and drags him to a cafe, leaving Chiyuri upset.

As the two are in the cafe, Kuroyukihime explains that “Brain burst” was created anonymously seven years ago and allows acceleration to those who were born with a neuro-linker.  So, all Burst Linkers are people 15 and under and its existence is not public.  Her goal is to meet the creator and understand why he created the game.  But she needs to reach level 10 which requires five wins over level 9 Burst Linkers.  If she loses, it would be a permanent uninstall of the Brain Burst.

She explains to Haru that two years ago, she was one of the Kings of Pure color and the level 9 Burst Linkers made a treaty not to fight each other but she did not agree to the treaty and beheaded the Red King in the game and now she is considered a traitor.  She has sealed away Black Lotus and has stayed offline and been using the schools local net with a dummy avatar.  But lately, a Burst Linker named Cyan Pile has challenged her to a duel and she does not want Black Lotus’ name to be exposed.  She wants to find out his identity and she feels that it may be Haru’s friend, Chiyuri.

As Haru goes to investigate, he goes to her home and links up with Chiyuri and he apologizes to her for what has happened and also wonders if her boyfriend Takumu knew about the bullying and she said she never told him.  He finds out that Haru is not Cyan Pule but he does find a back door connection on her computer that someone has been using and he is intent in finding out who.

Meanwhile, as Kuroyukihime finds out from Haru that he went to her bedroom, Kuroyukihime acts as if she’s jealous and Haru who is not so good at reading girls emotions dismisses it.  Students start to gossip at school about Haru and Kuroyukihime and the gossip club wants a scoop.  He explains that nothing is going on and why Kuroyukihime seems upset when Chiyuri is around and they tell him that she is probably jealous.  This shocks Haru because he doesn’t see why someone like Kuroyukihime would be with a person like him and once again, his low self-esteem starts to get the best of him and he tells Kuroyukihime that he accepts her being around him and although a person like her would never be around a guy like him, he would still be her pawn that she can use because he wants to help her out.

Shocked that Haru would say such a thing, she slaps him.  While the two are walking, a car driven by one of Haru’s bullies aims the car at them.  Before the car is about to hit them, Kuroyukihime initiates Accelerated World and she confesses to Haru that she is in love with him, but because of the current state of what will happen if a car hits them, both will be dead.  So, she will use a powerful move known as Physical Full Burst which will allow her to manipulate her real body while in Accelerated Mode and push him out of the way.  Unfortunately, the car will hit her.

Haru begs for Kuroyukihime not to do it but because she cares deeply for Haru, she does it and protects him by pushing his body out of the way.  When they come out of Accelerated World, Haru was saved but Kuroyukihime is hit by the car.

She is rushed to the hospital and Haru realizes that Kuroyukihime really did care for him.  As she is in critical condition, because her neural linker is still on her neck, anyone can use Burst Linker while she is vulnerable.  He vows to protect her from harm, especially if that person Cyan Pile ever shows up.

And as Haru stays at the hospital all night, to his surprise, Cyan Pile does show up to the hospital and unfortunately for Haru, it’s someone he knows quite well.

With Kuroyukihime in intensive care, Haru must do all he can to protect her in the Accelerated World from harm.  But without major experience and his very low self-esteem tends to get the best of him, can he protect Kuroyukihime and those who attempt to Burst Link and fight against him?

VIDEO:

“Accel World” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Picture quality is vibrant, the series is colorful and the character designs for the outfits in the Accelerated World is creative and cool.  I’m very impressed by the character design, animation during the action scenes but also the background art which is nicely detailed.

As the series looks amazing on Blu-ray, I didn’t notice any banding or artifact issues during my viewing of the series. Sunrise did a fantastic job with this anime series!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Accel World” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD MA 2.0.  While I would have loved a 5.1 lossless track, most anime series are typically released in stereo.  But dialogue and music is crystal clear and both soundtracks are identical in sound.  As for the voice acting, both are very well done.  The casting for this series for the English dub track for Haru, Kuroyukihime, Chiyuri, Takumu and Yuniko Kozuki is right on the money.  If there is one primary difference is that Yuniko, for the English dub track, tends to release the F bomb quite a bit versus the character’s Japanese counterpart who is not that vulgar.

But overall, soundtrack is good for both vocal tracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Accel World” comes with a character art gallery and the clean opening and ending animation.

Having watched Reki Kawahara’s “Sword Art Online”, I was very excited to see how “Accel World” would be, especially as both tackle online gaming and the dangers that can come with the actual game.

While “Sword Art Online” is a bit darker due to the fact that the gamers are held hostage in the game and they can die, with “Accel World”, the gamers can feel pain and because the game is not quite public and a select few know about the Accelerated World, it’s quite fascinating to watch because of the characters.

The main protagonist, Haru is nothing like Reki Kawahara’s “Sword Art Online” protagonist, Keito.  In reality, Haru is short, stodgy guy with major low self-esteem issues but he does have a good heart and is great at games.  He doesn’t make too many friends in the game and if anything, he is a character that is most often whining.  But overtime, he starts to feel more confidence in himself because of the game and most importantly, the good-nature side of himself wants to protect everyone he cares about.

Kuroyukihime is also a fascinating character because she is popular and here she is going for the least popular person in school.  What is it about her that she felt captivated to be around Haru?  Suffice to say, when she makes a decision to save Haru’s life in episode 4 was very sad but after episode 4, that is when the real story comes out as Haru is thrust into the Accel World, having to fight on his own without Kuroyukihime around him.  He needs to make the right decisions especially when he takes on several Brain Bursters.

The first volume of “Accel World” features the first 12 episodes but these episodes are more character development driven episodes as it introduces us to the concept of the game, introduces us to the characters and their mentality but exploring Haru, Kuroyukihime, Chiyuri, Takumu and Fuuko.  So, with 12 more episodes left, I would imagine that things are going to get chaotic within the game but at the same time, Haru will realize that he’s not alone and that there are people out there who care about him, not just in the game but also outside of it.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality is vibrant while the lossless soundtrack is good at 2.0 and both voice acting on the Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done.  The series does not have that many special features but at least , Viz Media has added 12-episodes, as opposed to less episodes as some other anime companies tend to do.

While “Accel World” is entertaining and much different from Reki Kawahara’s other famous work “Sword Art Online”, it’s an interesting concept with cool characters and a series that I found to be action-packed and quite delightful so far!

“Accel World: Set 01” is 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!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

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

June 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Image courtesy of © Lagrange Project. All Rights Reserved.

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

YEAR: 2012

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 Minutes (275 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV-MA

Release Date: June 11, 2013

Chief Director: Tatsuo Sato

Director: Toshimasa Suzuki

Series Composition by Shotaro Suga

Original Character Design by Haruyuki Morisawa

Character Design by Chizuru Kobayashi, Takushige Norita

Art Setting: Michie Watanabe

Music by Saeko Suzuki, TOMISIRO

Anime Production: Xebec, Production I.G.

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Kira Buckland as Madoka Kyono

Ai Kayano/Karen Strassman as Muginami

Asami Seto/Sophie Roberts as Lan

Ayumi Fujimura/Erika Harlacher as Ayane Iwa/Haruka Uehara

Azumi Asakura/Midge Mayes as Machiko Iwabuchi

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Ben Diskin as Izo

Hisako Kanemoto/Saki Shin as Asteria Lizamarie De Roschefall

Iori Nomizu/Erika Harlacher as Shōko Igarashi

Kazuyuki Okitsu/Vic Mignogna as Moid

Kenji Hamada/Bubba Chow as Hiroshi Nakaizumi

Kenji Nojima/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kirius

Makoto Yasumura/Patrick Seitz as Shōzō Tadokoro

Mamiko Noto/Wendee Lee as Yōko Nakaizumi

Megumi Nakajima/Cristina Vee as Grania

Rie Tanaka/Laura Post as Eri Watabe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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