Top

Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale (a J!-ENT Anime Film Review)

March 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I found the storyline of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” to be extremely satisfying and as a person who has watched the series and loved nearly every episode, I really enjoyed seeing the progression of Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and how that relationship plays a big part in the film’s storyline. I really do feel that fans will enjoy this SAO film! A wonderful and engrossing storyline filled with action and drama, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of  2017 © REKI KAWAHARA/PUBLISHED BY KADOKAWA CORPORATION ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO MOVIE Project. © RK/KC AMW/SM


Originally created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Scenario by Reki Kawahara, Tomohiko Ito

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design: Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima

Chief Animation Director: Shingo Adachi

Sound Director: Yoshikazu Iwanami

CGI Director: Ryuta Undo

Director of Photography: Kentaro Waki

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu as Asuna Yūki

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Kazuto Kirigaya/Kirito

Ayahi Takagaki as Rika Shinozaki/Lizbeth

Ayana Taketatsu as Suguha Kirigaya/Leafa

Hiroaki Hirata as Klein

Hiroki Yasumoto as Andrew Gilbert Mills/Agil

Kanae Itō as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro as Shino Asada/Sinon

Rina Hidaka as Keiko Ayano/Silica

Sayaka Kanda as Yuna

Takeshi Kaga as Professor Shigemura

Yoshio Inoue as Eiji

Kouichi Yamadera as Akihiko Kayaba


2022 – The NerveGear, the world’s first dedicated full-dive device developed by the genius programmer, Akihiko Kayaba. It was a revolutionary machine that opened up infinite possibilities for the world of VR (Virtual Reality.) 4 years later…. A next-generation, wearable multi-device called the Augma has been released to compete with the NerveGear’s successor – the Amusphere. A cutting-edge machine boasting the ability to enhance AR (Augmented Reality) to the maximum, the Augma offers a safe, user-friendly experience, as it can be used while the player is awake, making it an instant hit. Its killer title is an ARMMORPG developed exclusively for the Augma, “Ordinal Scale (a.k.a. OS).” Kirito is about to join Asuna and the others as an Ordinal Scale player, but…


The year 2026.

Two years after the “Sword Art Online” fiasco perpetrated by SAO creator Akihiko Kayaba which left many gamers injured or dead, a new technology is to be released.  A technology that is thought to be safe and nothing like the Nerve Gear that was used in “Sword Art Online”.

Now people can use the Augma, the successor to the Amusphere full-dive system which allows a player to play a game that simulates reality while the player is conscious (via augmented reality).

And one of the popular games created for the Augma is “Ordinal Scale”.  A game which has quickly gain popularity that Asuna, Lisbeth and Silica are playing it, but surprisingly Kirito hasn’t jumped aboard to play the game just yet until now.

As people get into the game, part of the main appeal to “Ordinal Scale” is the game’s mascot, an AI idol singer named Yuna who appears during the game to increase the stats of players.

While everyone is playing, the #2 ranked player Eiji helps the Kirito, Asuna and team defeat the level boss but Eiji uses the words “switch”, a term that was used in SAO to Asuna.

Meanwhile, Asuna tells Kirito that Eiji is most likely a member of the Knights of the Blood Oath named Nautilus, Yui tells them that the appearance of Aincrad bosses in “Ordinal Scale” are similar to the line up with the SAO dungeon maps.

As Asuna goes to play the game with her friends again, immediately Yuna and Eiji appear and Eiji pushes Asuna towards the level boss.

When Asuna is hit, she passes out and suddenly, Asuna starts to realize that her memories from SAO are starting to disappear. Concerned, Kirito takes Asuna to the hospital to get checked out and it is learned that the Augma device has scanned her brain for SAO memories, and it may have happened to other SAO players that are playing “Ordinal Scale”.

With Asuna’s memory loss of SAO, that means her memories of her friends, but most importantly her memories of Kirito will disappear.

A desperate Kirito tries to search for answers and promises that he will do whatever he can to get Asuna’s memories back.  But what will his search unveil?

What is “Sword Art Online” about:

In 2002, writer Reki Kawahara wrote a novel series titled “Sword Art Online” under the name Fumio Kunori.

While Kawahara would receive critical acclaim for his novel “Accel World” in 2009, which earned Kawahara an ASCII Media Works’ 15th Dengeki Novel Prize and also winning the Grand Prize in 2008, the popularity of his “Accel World” storyline would lead to “Sword Art Online” being republished and also featuring the art work of illustrator, abec.

This time using his real name on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeku Bunko label from April 10, 2009 and a spin-off series in 2012.  The series has since spawned a total of ten manga adaptations, two anime series, one TV film, five video games and now an animated film.

The original “Sword Art Online” series is set in 2022 and many are playing the Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG), “Sword Art Online” (SAO for short).

The game comes with a virtual reality helmet known as a Nerve Gear which uses the five senses of the brain and so players can control their characters with their mind.

The anime series focuses on protagonist, Kirito, one of the 1,000 beta testers of the Closed Beta version of SAO.  On November 6th, the game is released to the public and Kirito is enjoying the game and meets Klein, who has experience playing RPG’s but learns from Kirito about the basics of the game.

While the two are talking, suddenly they are transported to the main courtyard and are unable to log out.  They are told by the creator of SAO, Akihiko Kayaba, that all of the people playing are stuck in the game.  If anyone takes of the virtual reality helmet of a player, they will die.

As for those playing the game, if they want to be free of the game, they must reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss.  But if their avatars (their game character) dies in the game, their bodies will also die in the real world.  Also,  people in the real world who were stuck in the game have died by someone removing their Nerve Gear.

In the first series, Kirito and Asuna have become an online couple and while Kirito was able to succeed and free everyone by defeating the final boss of “Sword Art Online”, he has been utilized by law enforcement to assist in troubles that have affected users (as seen in “Sword Art Online II”).

In reality, Kazuto Kirigaya (Kirito) and Asuna Yuuki (Asuna) have continued their relationship outside of the game.  Asuna dreams of marrying Kazuto and having a family with him in the future.

And with the 2017 animated film “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”, with Asuna’s memories of SAO fading, the dreams of her and Kirito being together may now be in jeopardy.


If there is one thing that “Sword Art Online” has proved over the years, that Reki Kawahara’s light novels and the anime adaptation inspired from it, are popular among many fans worldwide.

I had no doubt in my mind that “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” would do well as a theatrical release, not just in Japan but other countries worldwide, especially the United States.

Considering the film is not a Studio Ghibli film or an animated film with no Disney or Hollywood movie studio connect, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” grossed $1.35 million in the first four days of its North American run.

In fact, the film set an opening weekend record for an Aniplex of America theatrical release and has played in 560 theaters nationwide.

And that is for a film that debuted in American theaters with Japanese voice acting and English subtitles.  And for those who dislike reading during their films, Aniplex of America will be releasing the film with an English dub soundtrack in April 2017 for a limited theatrical engagement.

Watching “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”, it has everything that fans have loved in the series.  A lot of action, a lot of humor but also emotional drama as viewers have watched and seen the relationship between Kazuto (Kirito) and Asuna evolve and in this film, you really see how far their love for each other has blossomed.  And so, this film has become a fight for love and Kazuto doing all that is necessary to make sure that the young woman he loves is saved from losing her memories due to a new threat.

Fans will also love seeing characters from the past making their appearance in the video game but one will no doubt be anticipating the next SOA storyline as the ending teaser (after all the credits are done) shows us another menacing threat that will surely surprise fans of the series.

Animation is fantastic as A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with capturing emotion in the faces of the characters but also within action sequences.  Voice acting is wonderful in its original Japanese soundtrack and English subtitles were easy to read.  And having watched the original series in both Japanese and English, I’m expecting the English dub to be equally fantastic when the English version of the film is released in US theaters this April.

If there was anything that I didn’t get into all that much in regards to “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is the overuse of AI idol singer Yuna.  Music plays a big part in the film and where idol singers through battle is something we are accustomed to seeing in “Macross” anime series or film, it was not something I expected all that much in “Sword Art Online” and felt it was done a little bit too much for my tastes but at the same time, I’m sure it benefits Aniplex for music soundtrack sales and I’m sure fans who loved the music in the film will no doubt be seeking to purchase the soundtrack.

But I also hope that Aniplex, a company known for giving fans a lot of swag with their limited edition releases, will include the film’s soundtrack with the Blu-ray release of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”.

I absolutely enjoyed “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” but I do recommend people who know nothing about the series to at least watch the SAO series before jumping into the film.

Overall, I found the storyline of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” to be extremely satisfying and as a person who has watched the series and loved nearly every episode, I really enjoyed seeing the progression of Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and how that relationship plays a big part in the film’s storyline.  I really do feel that fans will enjoy this SAO film!

A wonderful and engrossing storyline filled with action and drama, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is highly recommended!

Please follow and like us:

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

November 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

dbz-resurresction

“Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” manages to maintain the “Dragon Ball Z” animated film via popcorn action consistency. With a story focused on all-out action and the usual comedy, featuring the return of the Z Warriors taking on a more powerful Frieza, “Dragon Ball Z” fans will be no doubt be excited for this animated film! If you are a DBZ fan, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © BIRD STUDIO/SHUEISHA, 2015 Dragon Ball Z the movie production committee. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’

DURATION: 95 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: October 20, 2015


Original Creator/Character Design by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Tadashi Yamamuro

Screenplay by Akira Toriyama 

Chief Animation Director: Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Art Direction by Shinzo Yuki

Anime Production by TOEI ANIMATION


Voice by:

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Ryusei Nakao/Chris Ayres as Frieza

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Ten Shin Han

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Beerus

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-Sen’nin/Master Roshi

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Whis

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Gohan

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin

Natsuki Hanae/Todd Haberkorn as Jaco

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Shiro Saito/Jeremy Schwartz as Sorbet

Toshio Furukawa/Chris Sabat as Piccolo


Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is the second Dragon Ball film personally supervised by the series creator Akira Toriyama, following Battle of Gods. The new movie showcases the return of Frieza – one of the anime world’s greatest villains. Frieza has been resurrected and plans to take his revenge on the Z-Fighters of Earth. Goku and Vegeta must reach new levels of power in order to protect Earth from their vengeful nemesis.


As the worldwide popularity of “Dragon Ball Z” continues, a 15th film was released in 2015 titled “Dragon Ball Z: Fukkatsu no F” (“Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection “F”).

The animated film did very well in Japan as it took #1 in the Japanese box office earning over $8.1 million (US) and also did very well internationally.  In the US, the film was the first Japanese film to be screened in IMAX 3D and was also screened in Japan at ten 4DX theaters.  The $5 million animated film went on to gross over $62.8 million in the box office making it a major box office success in 2015.

And the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The film begins with Frieza’s army featuring Commander Sorbet knowing how bad things are without their leader.  But with their Intel which shows that Bulma was not the only human that has the technology to find Dragon Balls, Commander Sorbet and his crew go to Earth in hopes of reviving Frieza by finding Pulaf, Mai and Shu who are in the process of collecting Dragon Balls.

As Sorbet uses the Dragon Ball to revive Frieza, Frieza is briefed on how powerful Son Goku has become, even beating Majin Boo, that he will trained to become even more powerful and will exact his revenge.

As news has traveled throughout space, Jaco the Galactic Patrolman travels to Earth to warn Bulma that Frieza has returned.  But Goku and Vegeta are gone and are training on Beerus’ planet with Whis.  Which leaves Gohan, Piccolo, Krillin, Master Roshi, Tien Shinhan and Jaco to take on Frieza and his soldiers.

As the Z Warriors are not powerful enough to take on Frieza, Bulma sends a distress message to Goku and Vegeta, but are both men ready to take on this newly trained Frieza?


VIDEO & AUDIO

It’s important to note that if you want the best video and audio quality of “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”, the Blu-ray is the way to go.  As for the DVD, picture quality is very good (as the best it can get on DVD).  Colors are vibrant, the English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack features crisp and clear dialogue and music, while there are good use of the surround channels on both soundtracks.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features that came with “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”.


I happened to be in Japan during the promotion of “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” and there was no doubt, a lot of excitement for the movie.  The battle between Goku and Frieza was one of the biggest anime battles of all time and while there have been many battles showcased on the “Dragon Ball Z” anime series.

I watched the Goku vs. Frieza arc when it first was broadcasted in Japan and was also reading the Japanese “Shonen Jump”, so I was really into these characters and storyline at that time.

So, I have to say that when I found out that Frieza was being revived, while it does make sense, part of me was hoping that the storyline of Frieza’s death would be left alone.  As we saw how the storyline in relation to Frieza was played out with his older brother Cooler, for the fifth and sixth movies, there was part of me that wanted to see the Frieza storyline to be left in the past and new villains to be focused on from here on in.

With “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”, Frieza has been revived and after hearing of how Goku has gotten popular, Frieza decides to train for the first time in his life and has now become even stronger and can achieve “Golden Frieza” mode.  And now, a more powerful Goku and Vegeta must take on an even more powerful Frieza, but can they do it?

As a “Dragon Ball” fan, one of the positives of this latest film is to see all Z Warriors making their appearance but one of the biggest surprises for me was to see the Galactic Patrolman, JACO in the film.  Having read Akira Toriyama’s JACO one-shot manga (as the manga series shows a relation to Bulma’s family, moreso with her older sister, Tights), it was wonderful to finally seeing this character animated and utilized in a “Dragon Ball Z” film.

But of course, when you have a story that focuses on Frieza, one can expect an intense battle and for the most part, the storyline doesn’t disappoint when it comes to action.  But part of the excitement in the past, is that Goku and friends are often pushed to the extreme because the situation is quite dire and we see an intense buildup with many episodes in order to have the ultimate battle between Goku and an antagonist.  With a film, there is no true buildup, it’s just a fight and then it’s all over in 95 minutes.

Not to say that it’s bad without the buildup but that’s what made the battles between Goku vs. Piccolo, Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, Majin Boo so exciting! Otherwise, the animated “Dragon Ball Z” films are often quick, popcorn action animated films and are not as satisfying as its TV series counterpart.

When it comes to DBZ animated films, my barometer of best story is the fifth film, “Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan” and have felt the Broly-related DBZ films were so much fun to watch, as didn’t feel rushed.

With “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F'”, the animated film tries to incorporate so many characters and this ongoing bickering between Goku and Vegeta was a bit much.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy the animated film and really, to have Frieza as the main antagonist for a DBZ film is huge.  So, I had no doubt in my mind that with the resurrection of Frieza, Toei Animation were no doubt wanting to go big with an international release.  And for the most part, it paid off as the film did remarkably well in box offices worldwide.

As for the DVD, as mentioned, you will definitely want to go with the Blu-ray release if you want the best video and audio quality.  But on DVD, picture quality is good as it can get on DVD.  Colors are vibrant and the voice acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done!  The only drag about this DVD release is the lack of special features (aside from FUnimation trailers).

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” manages to maintain the “Dragon Ball Z” animated film via popcorn action consistency.  With a story focused on all-out action and the usual comedy, featuring the return of the Z Warriors taking on a more powerful Frieza, “Dragon Ball Z” fans will be no doubt be excited for this animated film!

If you are a DBZ fan, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” is recommended!

Please follow and like us:

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition (Movie 14) (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

dbz-movie14

 “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” is an animated film that “Dragon Ball” fans have hoped of happening for 17 years, but is it the best “Dragon Ball” film ever made? The answer is no. But I do feel that “Battle of the Gods” was exciting for the fact that the film had “Dragon Ball” creator, Akira Toriyama’s involvement and that he tried to feature as many characters from the series as possible. A fun and entertaining “Dragon Ball Z” animated film!  If you are a fan of the manga/anime series, then “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition (Movie 14)

DURATION: Theatrical Cut (1:25:15), Uncut Version (1:45:10)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV14

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Original Creator: Akira Toriyama

Director: Masahiro Hosoda

Story: Akira Toriyama

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Character Design: Akira Toriyama

Art Director: Hiroshi Kato, Hirotsugu Kakoi

Art Design: Hiroshi Kato

Produced by Gyarmath Bogdan, Rioko Tominaga

Anime Production: Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Destruction God Beerus

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Wiss

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Son Goten

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Aya Hirano/Justin Cook as Dende

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Jouji Yanami as Kaio-sama/Narrator

Kôzô Shioya/Josh Martin as Buu

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-Sen’nin (Master Roshi)

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Kuririn

Miki Itou/Meredith McCoy as Android 18

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Tohru Furuya as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unshou Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Yuko Minaguchi/Kara Edwards as Videl

Eiko Yamada/Colleen Cllinkenbeard as Mai

Jouji Yanami as Dr. Briefs

Kaori Matsumoto as Police woman

Kenji Utsumi as Shenlong

Naoki Tatsuta as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Brina Palencia as Puar

Ryouichi Tanaka as Old Kaioshin

Ryûzaburô Ôtomo as Gyuu Mao

Shigeru Chiba/Chuck Huber as Pilaf

Shinichi Karube as Sushi Seller

Shoko Nakagawa as Yogen Gyo

Takahiro Fujimoto as Bubbles

Tesshô Genda as Shuu

Youko Kawanami as Bulma’s Mother

Yuji Mitsuya as Kibitoshin

Following the events of the Dragon Ball Z television series, after the defeat of Majin Buu, a new power awakens and threatens humanity. Beerus, an ancient and powerful God of Destruction, searches for Goku after hearing rumors of the Saiyan warrior who defeated Frieza. Realizing the threat Beerus poses to their home planet, the Z-fighters must find a way to stop him before it’s too late. Only Goku, humanity’s last hope, can ascend to the level of a legendary Super Saiyan God and stop Beerus from destroying Earth, and possibly the entire universe!

In 2013, the 14th “Dragon Ball Z” film (the 18th “Dragon Ball” film overall) titled “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” premiered in theaters in Japan.

The first “Dragon Ball” movie in 17 years, “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” is the first film in the movie series that was created as part of the “Dragon Ball” canon and is set during the time skip in chapter 517.  It was also a film in which the original creator, Akira Toriyama was involved and now, the film will make its first appearance on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of FUNimation.

The film features Beerus, the God of Destruction, being awakened by Whis from a long slumber.

With Beerus awakened, this has caused distress for many, including Kaio-sama (King Kai), who tries to keep the existence of Beerus as a secret and knowing that if Son Goku finds out, Goku would do anything to fight him as Goku has always wanted to be the most powerful person in the world.

As Goku is on Planet being trained by Kaio-sama, back on Earth, the Z Warriors are celebrating the birthday of Bulma and everyone is having fun.

On the day that Beerus and Whis come to visit Kaio-sama, in search of the God of Planet Saiyajin, Goku meets Beerus and challenges him to a duel.  Beerus allows for it to happen and gives Goku a chance to fight him with all his power.

But even at Level 3 Saiyan, Goku is easily defeated with two blows.

Meanwhile, Beerus the Destroyer heads to Earth in search of the Super Saiyan God and Kaoio-sama sends a message to Vegeta to protect his friends as Goku was easily beaten with two punches.

But to Vegeta’s surprise, Beerus arrives and interrupts the party and as the Z Warriors fears the destruction of Earth, can the Z Warriors fight against the powerful Beerus?

As Goku tries to learn how he can beat a God, he learns from Shenglong that the power of six pure-hearted Saiyans can help him reach the Super Saiyan God form.  But can Goku defeat Beerus, the god of destruction?

VIDEO:

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  As expected from a newer “Dragon Ball Z” film, the colors are vibrant and there is also good use of CG for coloring and shading for background art but also buildings/castles.  Picture quality is sharp and the film looks fantastic in HD!

With that being said, I do feel there is a major difference from the cell-shaded “Dragon Ball Z” films in terms of background art and cell shading, but I do feel the older “Dragon Ball Z” films had something magical in terms of background art and cell work.  But this latest animated film does showcase the vibrant colors in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is presented in Japanese and English Master Audio 5.1. with English subtitles.  Dialogue and the film’s musical soundtrack is crystal clear and there are no signs of crackling or hiss during my viewing of the film.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition″ comes with the following special features:

  • Behind the Scenes: Battle of Voice Actors – (9:53) A look at the American English dub actors at the studio doing various scenes from the film.
  • The Voices of Dragon Ball Z: Unveiled – (19:22) Featuring the American English dub actors of “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods”.
  • Textless Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailers – “Dragon ball Z” trailers
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

For many of us that read or watched “Dragon Ball”, many of us have wondered if Akira Toriyama would bring fans a new “Dragon Ball” story.

Of course, a few years ago, fans were given a chance to see “Dragon Ball” remastered and made into “Dragon Ball Kai” with new bits of animation.  But fans have wanted to see these characters come back into animated form, not just for video game sake.

And in 2013, the first “Dragon Ball” film to be release in Japan in 17 years, was released in Japan with major PR buildup, especially all over Tokyo, with exhibitions to Kentucky Fried Chicken leading the charge of “Dragon Ball” swag.

Here we are in 2014 and “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” has now made its way to America on Blu-ray via an extended edition which includes the theatrical version of the animated film and a 20-minute longer uncut version.

I typically don’t put too much into “Dragon Ball” films, for this one, it was an exception as Akira Toriyama has said its part of the series’ canon and also, for any fan of the series, you can’t help but be excited to see everyone reunite once again!

While I did enjoy “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” as a fan of the series, I was hoping for more focus on the action rather than a story that tries to bring out every character.

Yes, we get mega action as Goku takes on the god of destruction, Beerus but we also get the comedy that we have typically seen in a “Dragon Ball Z” filler episode.

Aside from the battle, we also get Emperor Pilaf, Shu and Mai trying to steal the Dragon Balls.  Gohan donning the Super Saiyaman outfit once again, Gotenks and Trunks doing the fusion combo and while Trunks tries to impress Gotenks and his mother that he is dating the very short but 40-something year-old Mai, for those wanting some of that comedy will be happy, while those used to the action-driven storyline may find the film straying too far from the action.

But sometimes the comedy is a bit too cheesy.  For example, I found it ridiculous that Beerus was getting jealous of Buu over pudding cups and then all the Z Warriors taking him on and not getting very far.

But when the film does get to the action, especially seeing Vegeta going all out against Beerus, you can’t help but be excited to see Vegeta and also Goku kicking some major butt!

While the extended uncut version of the film is included, I felt the theatrical version was much better because the uncut version just went too long.  I watched the uncut version first and felt part of the story needed trimming down and fortunately, for the theatrical cut, they made the necessary 20-minutes of cuts that was needed.

As for the Blu-ray release, the film looked absolutely vibrant and is full of color.  This is the cleanest, sharpest and most colorful “Dragon Ball Z” animated film yet and it looks great on Blu-ray!  Also, both lossless soundtracks are very good and both acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done!  While there are no major Japanese featurettes included on the Blu-ray release, you do get two English dub FUNimation featurettes.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” is an animated film that “Dragon Ball” fans have hoped of happening for 17 years, but is it the best “Dragon Ball” film ever made?  The answer is no.   But I do feel that “Battle of the Gods” was exciting for the fact that the film had “Dragon Ball” creator, Akira Toriyama’s involvement and that he tried to feature as many characters from the series as possible.

A fun and entertaining “Dragon Ball Z” animated film!  If you are a fan of the manga/anime series, then “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is recommended!

Please follow and like us:

Appleseed XIII: Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

appleseedxiii

“Appleseed XIII” was a fascinating and entertaining anime series, especially for those who enjoyed the previous OVA or animated “Appleseed”  films.  The TV series was an interesting look into the background of the protagonists Deunan and Briareos and their earlier relationship as a couple and members of E.S.W.A.T.  An action-packed anime series with an emotional touch, “Appleseed XIII” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Appleseed XIII: Complete Series

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (390 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 Aspect Ratio), Audio: English and Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH and French

RATED: TV 14

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: June 4, 2013

Originally Created by Masamune Shirow

Directed by Takayuki Hamana

Sereis Composition by Jun’Ichi Fujisaku

Music by Conisch

Original Character Design by Masasamune Shirow

Character Design by Masanobu Nomura

Mechanical Design by Atsushi Takeuchi

Anime Production: Jimi’s Animation Studios

Background Art: Studio Biho

Featuring the voices of:

Kouichi Yamadera/David Matranga as Brialeos

Maaya Sakamoto/Luci Christian as Deunan Knotts

Ami Koshimizu/Caitlin Glass as Gina

Hiro Shimono/Micah Solusod as Yoshitsune

Jouji Nakata/Mike McFarland as Mags

Kanji Suzumori/Brandon Potter as Reese

Kenjiro Tsuda/Chuck Huber as Greg

Masashi Sugawara/Cris George as Baxter

Mayumi Yanagisawa/Shelley Calene-Black as Nike

Mikako Takahashi/Emily Neves as Hitomi

Naomi Shindoh/Monica Rial as Dia

Naoya Uchida/Charles Campbell as Lance

Ryotaro Okiayu/Ian Sinclair as Archedes

Sakiko Tamagawa/Allison Sumrall as Athena

In the wake of destruction from a worldwide non-nuclear war, the city of Olympus has become the control center of the world. As humanity adopts biological enhancements in attempts to achieve perfection, a terrorist organization uprises to prevent what could be the eventual extinction of the human race. Two former LAPD SWAT members join a special mech-piloting, military force to take down the leader of the terrorist organization.

Masamune Shirow, one of my favorite manga artists that I had the opportunity to enjoy his works back when I was a teenager.

Creator of manga hits such as “Black Magic”, “Dominion”, “Ghost in the Shell”, “Orion” and also had the opportunity to read the manga and watch the original 1988 OVA series “Appleseed”.

Although the first Shirow anime I watched was the OVA “Black Magic M-66″, I also had the opportunity to watch the first anime release of “Appleseed” and I can easily remember how cerebral the OAV was compared to “Black Magic M-66″ and the two “Dominion Tank Police” OVA’s.  But if there is one thing that you can expect from Shirow’s work is an intelligent story, being created with meticulous detail and a tremendous back story.  Shirow is able to create a world with characters that just amazes me.

Granted, his work that a lot of people outside of Japan are familiar with is “Ghost in the Shell”, in 2004, all things changed with the release of “Appleseed” the movie, a film that brought the world of “Appleseed” using new technology and a creative, innovative way to use 3D in a film.  Directed by Shinji Aramaki, a sequel titled “Appleseed Ex Machina” was created in 2007.

The main premise of “Appleseed” is a problematic world in chaos after a non-nuclear Third World War has decimated Earth in the 22nd Century.  The United States, Great Britain and China are having problems maintaining order, while former LAPD SWAT members Deunan Kute and Briareos Hecantonchires work for the prestigious ES.W.A.T. (Extra Special Weapons and Tactics) in the city of Olympus.  A city in which half of the population are bioroids and shows how Deunan and Briareos are dedicated to protecting their home from their enemies.

But for those wanting storyline exploring how Deunan and Briareos became close as partners, the storyline was never fully explored in an animated version (only in the manga series) until 2011 when the CGI anime adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s “Appleseed XIII” was aired on television in 2011-2012.  The first 6 episodes were then made into a film titled “Appleseed XIII: Tartaros” in June 2011 and a second film based on the final seven episodes  titled “Appleseed XIII: Ouranos” was released in October 2011.

The series was directed by Takayuki Hamana (“The Prince of Tennis”, “Sisters of Wellber”, “Library War”) and features a screenplay by Jun’ichi Fujisaku (“Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Real Drive”, “XxxHOLic the Movie: A Midsummer Night’s Dream”).  The music for the animated series was created by Conisch (“Mardock Scramble” films, “ToHeart2”, “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal”), character designs by Takayuki Goto  (“Blue Seed”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”) and art direction by Masanobu Nomura (“The Big O”, “Blue Exorcist”, “Gurren Lagann”, “Ah! My Goddess: The Movie”).

The animated series focuses on a younger Deunan and her relationship with Briareos.  Deunan is a special agent who is in a relationship with Briareos, a veteran cyborg soldier.

She’s has a temper and doesn’t like how Briareos acts like her father (which she didn’t get along with), but Briareos has promised her father and to her, that he would protect her no matter what.  And as the two want to protect Olympus as members of ES.W.A.T., they must deal with a lot of corruption, may it be corporate or political.

But trouble ensues when the city is implementing the Ark Project, a project to preserve the future of human kind but under bioroid supervision.  And as there are humans who have accepted bioroids as part of society, there is another group known as the Human Liberation Front that opposes the project, as they despise anything bioroid.

And because the HLF is tied to a terrorist group known as the Argonauts, trouble begins to take place in the city of Olympus and Deunan and Briareos must do what they can to protect Olympus.

VIDEO:

“Appleseed XIII: Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  While both “Appleseed” films raised the bar of what can be accomplished in CG animation during that time, “Appleseed XIII” also utilizes CG but in a different style.  Not to say that it’s bad because it’s a given that a TV series will not have the same animation budget as a film, but there is obviously less detail and the animation can look a bit jerky at times.  From character movements, hair movements, it just reminded me of how animation was back in the mid-to-late ’90s at times, while background art was very good.  It takes a while to get used to, but the art backgrounds, mechanical design and are well-done!

Presentation on Blu-ray is clean with no artifacts, slight banding and colors look very good in HD.

AUDIO:

“Appleseed XIII: Complete Series” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  Action scenes showcase very good use of panning for the surround channels and also good use of LFE.   As for voice acting on the Japanese side, you have two veterans involved with the series.  Kouichi Yamadera who had previously done the voice of Briareos (as well as the voice of Spike on “Cowboy Bebop”, Tenshin han on “Dragon Ball Z”, Cheese on “Soreike! Anpanman”.  And you have Maaya Sakamoto doing the voice of Deunan (she also did the voice of Lunamaria Hawke in “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny”, Ciel Phantomhive in “Black Butler”and Aura in the “.Hack” series).

As for the English dub, it’s important to note that the English voice talent for the TV series is different from the films (as original voice talent were not available) but the voice talent featuring David Matranga as Briareos and Luci Christian as Deunan, both did a wonderful job.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Appleseed XIII: Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 7 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Mike McFarland, Ian Sinclair and Monica Rial.
  • Episode 12 Audio Commentary – (7:23) Featuring audio commentary by Colleen Clinkenbeard and David Matranga.
  • The Inside – (2:23:56) A wonderful featurette featuring 13 special features on the making of “Appleseed XIII” and learning about how the series involved various Japanese creators and companies who took part in making the animated series.
  • U.S. Trailer – (2:02) FUNimation’s trailer for “Appleseed XIII”.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Theme

EXTRAS:

“Appleseed XIII: Complete Series” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the films.

When it comes to Masamune Shirow works, one of the experiences that I like to come out of reading or watching his works is the feeling of intellectual storytelling.  Storytelling that captivates you for how cerebral and not worrying if the masses will understand his work or not.

“Appleseed” is an interesting anime because the storyline of the characters of Deunan and Briareos as members of ES.W.A.T. has been established in the OAV and the two animated films.  We know these two characters are kick ass, no nonsense and literally get the job done, no matter what challenges come their way.

We have seen the corruption of the powerful and we have seen the troubles within society between humans and bioroids.   So, that is an established storyline for those who have followed “Appleseed” in the past.

With the success of the two films and so much content from Shirow’s manga that have yet to be covered, “Appleseed XIII” takes the storyline before those major events and focuses on a young, explosive Deunan and her overprotective boyfriend/cyborg Briareos.

And I have to admit that I was surprised to see the sentimental side between these two characters.  For so long, they have been involved in storylines where your attention is focused on their partnership and taking on criminals but this time around, while the focuses on protecting the city and going after criminals, still continues, we also get to see an emotional side of the characters.

Deunan’s lack of a relationship with her father, her stubbornness of being upset at Briareos who wants to protect her.  And to see the two bickering about their relationship, it was not what I was expecting to see. But the fact that this series covers their early relationship, I suppose I never really expected to see this emotional side of either characters.

But I suppose it is necessary to show how these two have evolved as partners but I suppose I never really thought about them in a romantic kind of way considering she is human and he is cyborg.

The storyline between human and bioroids actually made me think of an older anime series titled “Bubblegum Crisis” and the hatred between humans and robots trying to co-exist but “Appleseed XIII” also explores the positive bond between human and bioroids as well.   I know there have been several stories that explored that tale, but it’s interesting to see how this storyline plays out and how it starts to affect Deunan.

As for the anime series, I felt the animation took getting used to.  After watching the beautiful animation of the films, it took a while to get used to the anime production.  Character designs were good but at times were clunky.  From hair movement to body movement, the jerkiness was almost like a trip back to the late ’90s of CG animation.  But there are impressive visual moments throughout the film.  Backgrounds were beautiful to look at, fight scenes were impressive and mechanical designs were awesome.

While certain aspects of the film looked amazing on Blu-ray and good use of surround channels and LFE for lossless audio, I was also happy to see the 2 hour and 23 minute featurettes about the making of the series plus the addition of two audio commentaries.

Overall, “Appleseed XIII” was a fascinating series and for those who enjoyed the previous OVA or films, it was an interesting look into the background of the protagonists Deunan and Briareos and their earlier relationship as a couple and members of E.S.W.A.T taking on a variety of challenges.  An action-packed anime series with an emotional touch, “Appleseed XIII” is recommended!

Please follow and like us:

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://j-entonline.com/tag/kouichi-yamadera/">
Twitter
Bottom