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Kurokami the Animation: Volume Six (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The conclusion of “Kurokami the Animation” is here with the final sixth volume.  Kuro, Keita and friends put up one final fight against the evil Masagami… who will survive and who will die?  A fitting conclusion to this action anime series and also included is a bonus episode featuring the character Excel.  Overall, “Kurokami the Animation” has become an entertaining, action-driven anime series from beginning to end.  It’s worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © 2009-2010 Lim Dail Young, Park Sung Woo/Square Enix/Sunrise, Bandai Visual. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Kurokami – The Animation – Volume Six

DURATION: EPISODES 21-24 (100 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), English PCM 2.0,

COMPANY: Sunrise/Bandai Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED (Note: This anime does feature violence)

Release Date: May 22, 2011

 

Originally created by Dall-Young Lim, Sung-woo Park

Directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi

Series Composition by Reiko Yoshida

Original Character Design by Sung-woo Park

Character Design: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Director: Shunichiro Yoshihara

Chief Animation Director: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Design: Tomoyasu Fujise

Sound Director: Hiromi Kikuta

Director of Photography: Naoyuki Wada

Anime Production by Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jason Griffith as Keita Ibuki

Laura Bailey as Kuro

Christopher Kromer as Daichi Kuraki

Crispin Freeman as Reishin

Emily Bauer as Riona Kogure

Eva Kaminsky as Nam

Julie Ann Taylor as Akane Sano

Kathleen McInerney as Yuki Kaionji

Marc Thompson as Hiyou

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Mikami Hojo

Michael Sinterniklaas as Punipuni

Patrick Seitz as Steiner

Stephanie Sheh as Excel

With the truth behind Reishin’s actions finally revealed, Keita learns the horrible secret behind Kuro’s power. Now Kuro must face not only the evil power behind everything but also fight against her very own nature. With their true enemy finally revealed, the Tera Guardians muster all their strength to defeat their foe… even if it costs them everything.

The final sixth volume of “Kurokami” is here!

In this final volume featuring episodes 21-24, Kuro and Keita have made a commitment to put an end to the Doppeliner System that has caused everyone so much misery!  But the biggest surprise was that her brother Reishin was never an enemy, he was protecting her from being sacrificed by their village.  But now, the Masagami, red and white incarnations that are part of Kuro have incredible power and wants to form with Kuro in order to rule the world and destroy the galaxy.

It’s the final battle where everything is put on the line.  Who will live and who will die?

“Kurokami the Animation” Back Story

For those who have never heard of “Kurokami”, in the world of “Kurokami” (“Black God”), one sometimes think they see another person that looks exactly like them (doppelganger) but in reality, there are three (doppeliner) which share the same life force (known as Tera). If by any chance, one was to see each other, one would die and the others would have that life force equally distributed. Making sure this “Coexistence Equilibrium” is kept in check are the Tera Guardians.

This is the story of “Kurokami”, a 23-episode anime TV series which is an adaptation of a Japanese manga series by Dall-Young Lim and illustrated by Sung-Woo Park and is an ongoing series published in the magazine “Young Gangan”.

The anime series is directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi (“Glass no Kamen”, “Midori Days”, “Twelve Kingdoms”) and features series composition by Reiko Yoshida (“Aria”, “D.Gray-Man”, “Kaleido Star”, “Peach Girl”). Character designs are by Hiroyuki Nishimura (“Spirit of Wonder”, “Deltora Quest”) and music composed by Tomohisa Ishikawa (“Appleseed: Ex Machina”, “Kite Liberator”, “Innocent Venus”). And now the first volume of the anime series is released on Blu-ray and includes the first four episodes.

“Kurokami” revolves around a teenager named Keita Ibuki. When he was younger, his mother met someone that looked exactly like her and the next day she was hit by a car. So, the existence of a doppelganger has always been in his mind.

One night when he went out for ramen, he meets a girl named Kuro along with her dog Punipuni, they seem quite hungry. He offers her his ramen and all seems well until a madman comes out of nowhere and assaults her.

Keita tries to help her but is easily beaten by this madman. But what he sees is this girl’s incredible fighting power. After all is done and Kuro overcomes her assailant, she tells him that she is out to kill her brother.

The paths of both Keita and Kuro cross again and Kuro explains to her about the doppeliner and that she is a Tera Guardian. As Keita tries to deal with this and possibly learn why his mother died, his childhood friend Akane (who likes Keita) tries to help both Keita and Kuro as well.

One evening, a group of thugs with extreme power go after her again but this time, Keita tries to help but is mortally wounded. Kuro manages to escape with him but because he is dying, she decides to exchange hearts with him in order to keep him alive and thus a contract is created. But she warns him that they must be near each other at all times or her heart will become necrotic if its too far away from her. Keita has now become the contractee and his life is forever bonded with Kuro.

In volume 2 of “Kurokami the Animation”, Keita and Kuro confront a group of Tera Guardians in battle, meanwhile we learn about Kuro’s past and also information about Keita’s deceased mother. But most importantly, Keita is told the truth about his status of being a contractee and that contractees can easily be killed and are not invincible.

For Keita, his thought was that he wouldn’t die during a battle but now knowing that he is vulnerable may change his status of how he fights with Kuro. Meanwhile, Keita, Kuro and Akane left to Okinawa and confronted two survivors from the Hiba Clan.

In volume 3, it appears that others are looking for the survivors of the Hiba Clan and while Reishin makes his appearance. Keita discovers that contractees can be “negative roots” but would he ever dare going that direction. Also, a friend who had been dead has made his appearance once again and the news he has for Keita will surprise him.

As Kuro and Keita barely survive against their battle with Reishin, thanks to the help of Excel and Steiner, Kuro and Keita are able to escape. But unfortunately, in order for them to escape, Steiner sacrificed his life. Meanwhile, Kuraki and Raiga then take on Reishin to for the control of the Kaionji Group.

In volume four, this begins the second season of “Kurokami”. Kuro and Keita take on the powerful Shinra and both find a way to combine their life energy. Meanwhile, Akane is revealed to be a master root. Everyone in the world except Tera Guardians and contractee’s have collapsed for some unknown reason and the Pure Land has been created.

“Kurokami: The Animation” features the following characters:

  • Keita Ibuki – When Keita was young, he met a woman that looked like his mother. The following day, his mother died. One day, while trying to defend a woman who was getting beaten by a Tera Guardian, he is severely injured in the heart area and before he was to die, Kuro saves his life by forming a contract with him. As long as the two are close together, he has the ability to heal Kuro and also develops his skill as a contractee.
  • Kuro Shishigami - One of the last remaining members of the Shishigami clan and a Tera Guardian. She is after her brother Reishin Shishigami who murdered everyone in the clan (including their mother) except her. She now has formed a bond with Keita and together they take on other enemy Tera Guardians.
  • Reishin Shishigami - The older brother of Kuro who was thought to be the evil enemy ends up being a brother trying to protect his younger sister.
  • Akane Sano – A childhood friend of Keita, Akane is in love with him but has a hard time expressing it to him. She occasionally joins Keita and Kuro on their adventures.
  • Punipuni - Kuro’s small doberman pup and is always hungry. He also seems to understand people when they talk to him.
  • Excel - A veteran contractee who worked with the Tera Guardian named Steiner and later Mikami. She has the ability to create Hexagon shields.
  • Yakumo – A Tera Guardian that survived the massacre and does all he can to protect Kuro. His contractee is Riona Kogure and both are often traveling with Kuro and Keita.
  • Riona Kogure - A contractee of Yakumo. She escaped from the Kaionji group when she found out that she was going to be experimented on.
  • Mikami Houjou – A powerful Tera Guardian from the Ginko clan. She once worked for the Kaionji group for medicine to give to her dying contractee. She later forms a contract with Excel.
  • Nam – A Tera Guardian who has the sole job of not interfering but recording the history of the Tera Guardian.  She is also very well-endowed, hungry and having discovered real food, begins to freeload at Keita’s home.

“Kurokami” vol. 6 features the episodes 21-24 of the TV series on one Blu-ray disc. Here is a brief, spoiler-free synopsis of each episode:

  • EPISODE 21 – Deity – The fight against the Masagami.  Who will live and who will die?
  • EPISODE 22 – Destiny – The aftermath of the fight against Masagami… but was the Doppeliner System eliminated?
  • EPISODE 23 – Path - The final episode. A recap story that ends with us knowing what happened to Kuro, Keita and Akane.
  • BONUS EPISODE 24 – The Tigress and the Wing – The following is a bonus un-aired episode featuring a recap of Excel’s life and her becoming the contractee for Mikami Houjou.

VIDEO:

“Kurokami The Animation” is featured in 1080p High Definition. The series is quite vibrant and looks absolutely beautiful in HD. Blacks are nice and deep, colors pop and I didn’t notice any edge enhancement or compression artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kurokami The Animation” is presented in English PCM 2.0. And as mentioned in my previous review of volume 1 of the series, “Kurokami” does not include the lossless Japanese audio while the DVD does include both soundtracks. It is discussed on various message boards that because the series is being released at the same time in Japan, to prevent reverse importation, the lossless Japanese soundtrack was not granted for the U.S. release (note: In Japan, the Blu-ray release costs about three times as more than the U.S. release and to prevent reverse importation over there, they didn’t include English subtitles).

Unfortunately with Japan and the U.S. on the same region for Blu-ray releases and people demanding simultaneous or near simultaneous releases, this is easily going to be an issue for American anime fans if more series continue to feature the lack of a Japanese audio track.

As for the English dub, for the most part the English dubbing was well-done. Jason Griffith (as Keita) known for his work for the character Shadow for “Sonic X” does a very good job but anime voice acting veterans Laura Bailey (as Kuro) and Julie Ann Taylor (as Akane) do a solid job as the voice of their characters.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kurokami the Animation vol. 6″ contains the following special features:

  • Textless ending themes - Included are two textless ending themes for “Kurokami the Animation”.
  • Bandai Entertainment Previews

With the last fifth volume of “Kurokami the Animation”, the action-packed volume and also the final reveal about Reishin was a surprise and now here we are with the continuation but also the final volume of the series.  While the last volume was all about the action, this final sixth volume concludes the action with episode 22 with the final fight against the Masagami but also knowing what must be done to end the Doppeliner System.

In the end, “Kurokami the Animation” gives fans closure to how the series ends and what happens to the characters.  The ending of episode 23, the final episode of “Kurokami”, was quite touching but also sad at the same time.  But by watching the series from beginning to end, I felt it was the only conclusion that had to happen.  Especially having to conclude the Kuro – Keita – Akane angle.  The final episode, features a narrative of the three protagonists of the series and  gives us insight in the minds of Kuro, Akane and also Keita and it was a fitting end to this series.

Also included on the Blu-ray release (and DVD) is the un-aired episode about Excel and gives us good insight about her and the relationship she had with Steiner but also how she became a contractee for Mikami.

Although listed as “episode 24″, this is not the final episode, this is an unaired bonus episode that was created but has no place in the pacing of the series as the director kept the focus on Kuro and Keita.  But it was a good bonus episode to have on the Blu-ray release and to also let us know why she is so wise despite being a teen.

“Kurokami – The Animation” is an enjoyable anime series sporting cool characters, cool animation/background art and also fight sequences.   The series had its share of dark moments but also its fair share of hilarious, fun and upbeat moments. But the storyline while focusing on action, actually has a clever storyline about doppelgangers, fortunately the diverse characters in this series have made “Kurokami” worth watching.

While I know there are anime fans who are put off by the fact that this is the only Bandai Entertainment release thus far that does not contain a Japanese soundtrack, fortunately the English dub is well-done.    I do wish that the Blu-ray releases had more special features outside of the usual textless ending themes but in the end, the anime series throughout its entire run was entertaining and with each release, had me wanting more and more.

Overall, “Kurokami the Animation: Volume Six” was a fun and enjoyable action series from beginning to end!  Was it the best anime series, definitely not.  But would I watch it again?  Most definitely.

If you have been curious about this anime series, “Kurokami the Animation” is a series that I can easily recommend!

Kurokami the Animation: Volume Five (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Kurokami the Animation” volume 5 sets things up for a magnificent conclusion for volume 6.  For this latest “Kurokami” release, expect every major character to come back and fight in battle.  Expect an intense action-driven from here on in  with many surprising twist and turns.  “Kurokami” has become one hell of an awesome anime series and if you haven’t watched it yet, you should start!  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2009-2010 Lim Dail Young, Park Sung Woo/Square Enix/Sunrise, Bandai Visual. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Kurokami – The Animation – Volume Five

DURATION: EPISODES 17-20 (100 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), English PCM 2.0,

COMPANY: Sunrise/Bandai Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED (Note: This anime does feature violence)

Release Date: January 4, 2011

 

Originally created by Dall-Young Lim, Sung-woo Park

Directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi

Series Composition by Reiko Yoshida

Original Character Design by Sung-woo Park

Character Design: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Director: Shunichiro Yoshihara

Chief Animation Director: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Design: Tomoyasu Fujise

Sound Director: Hiromi Kikuta

Director of Photography: Naoyuki Wada

Anime Production by Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jason Griffith as Keita Ibuki

Laura Bailey as Kuro

Christopher Kromer as Daichi Kuraki

Crispin Freeman as Reishin

Emily Bauer as Riona Kogure

Eva Kaminsky as Nam

Julie Ann Taylor as Akane Sano

Kathleen McInerney as Yuki Kaionji

Marc Thompson as Hiyou

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Mikami Hojo

Michael Sinterniklaas as Punipuni

Patrick Seitz as Steiner

Stephanie Sheh as Excel

With Kuraki’s plan to form a Utopia in ruins, the Pure Place, the home of the Shishigami clan of Tera Guardians, appears in Tokyo bay. Along with the appearance of the Pure Place, every human being except those in a Pact with a Tera Guardian falls unconscious. Kuro senses a tremendous amount of Tera gathering at her birthplace and heads there to investigate.

On their way there, Kuro and Keita encounter a mysterious Tera Guardian named Nam, but that is to be only the first of many before Kuro can learn the truth that’s been hidden from her since birth…

The fifth volume of “Kurokami” is here!  And Kuro and Keita have made a commitment to put an end to the Doppeliner System that has caused everyone so much misery!

In volume four, the helicopter that Akane was inside had malfunctioned and crash landed into the sea.  Everyone inside was killed but Akane was not found.  Keita worries that Akane may be dead.

But meanwhile, various Tera Guardians are making their way to the Pure Land where the Tera Crystal is located.  Those who want the incredible power of the “Masagami” and have the power to rule and destroy planets.  But Kuro and Keita want to make sure they get their first.

But everyone receives an uneasy feeling, of increased tera nearby.  Can it be… Reishin Shishigami is still alive?

“Kurokami the Animation” Backstory

For those who have never heard of “Kurokami”, in the world of “Kurokami” (“Black God”), one sometimes think they see another person that looks exactly like them (doppelganger) but in reality, there are three (doppeliner) which share the same life force (known as Tera). If by any chance, one was to see each other, one would die and the others would have that life force equally distributed. Making sure this “Coexistence Exquilibrium” is kept in check are the Tera Guardians.

This is the story of “Kurokami”, a 23-episode anime TV series which is an adaptation of a Japanese manga series by Dall-Young Lim and illustrated by Sung-Woo Park and is an ongoing series published in the magazine “Young Gangan”.

The anime series is directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi (“Glass no Kamen”, “Midori Days”, “Twelve Kingdoms”) and features series composition by Reiko Yoshida (“Aria”, “D.Gray-Man”, “Kaleido Star”, “Peach Girl”). Character designs are by Hiroyuki Nishimura (“Spirit of Wonder”, “Deltora Quest”) and music composed by Tomohisa Ishikawa (“Appleseed: Ex Machina”, “Kite Liberator”, “Innocent Venus”). And now the first volume of the anime series is released on Blu-ray and includes the first four episodes.

“Kurokami” revolves around a teenager named Keita Ibuki. When he was younger, his mother met someone that looked exactly like her and the next day she was hit by a car. So, the existence of a doppelganger has always been in his mind.

One night when he went out for ramen, he meets a girl named Kuro along with her dog Punipuni, they seem quite hungry. He offers her his ramen and all seems well until a madman comes out of nowhere and assaults her.

Keita tries to help her but is easily beaten by this madman. But what he sees is this girl’s incredible fighting power. After all is done and Kuro overcomes her assailant, she tells him that she is out to kill her brother.

The paths of both Keita and Kuro cross again and Kuro explains to her about the doppeliner and that she is a Tera Guardian. As Keita tries to deal with this and possibly learn why his mother died, his childhood friend Akane (who likes Keita) tries to help both Keita and Kuro as well.

One evening, a group of thugs with extreme power go after her again but this time, Keita tries to help but is mortally wounded. Kuro manages to escape with him but because he is dying, she decides to exchange hearts with him in order to keep him alive and thus a contract is created. But she warns him that they must be near each other at all times or her heart will become necrotic if its too far away from her. Keita has now become the contractee and his life is forever bonded with Kuro.

In volume 2 of “Kurokami the Animation”, Keita and Kuro confront a group of Tera Guardians in battle, meanwhile we learn about Kuro’s past and also information about Keita’s deceased mother. But most importantly, Keita is told the truth about his status of being a contractee and that contractee’s can easily be killed and are not invincible.

For Keita, his thought was that he wouldn’t die during a battle but now knowing that he is vulnerable may change his status of how he fights with Kuro. Meanwhile, Keita, Kuro and Akane left to Okinawa and confronted two survivors from the Hiba Clan.

In volume 3, it appears that others are looking for the survivors of the Hiba Clan and while Reishin makes his appearance. Keita discovers that contractees can be “negative roots” but would he ever dare going that direction. Also, a friend who had been dead has made his appearance once again and the news he has for Keita will surprise him.

As Kuro and Keita barely survive against their battle with Reishin, thanks to the help of Excel and Steiner, Kuro and Keita are able to escape. But unfortunately, in order for them to escape, Steiner sacrificed his life. Meanwhile, Kuraki and Raiga then take on Reishin to for the control of the Kaionji Group.

In volume four, this begins the second season of “Kurokami”.  Kuro and Keita take on the powerful Shinra and both find a way to combine their life energy.  Meanwhile, Akane is revealed to be a master root.  Everyone in the world except Tera Guardians and contractee’s have collapsed for some unknown reason and the Pure Land has been created.

“Kurokami: The Animation” features the following characters:

  • Keita Ibuki – When Keita was young, he met a woman that looked like his mother.  The following day, his mother died.  One day, while trying to defend a woman who was getting beaten by a Tera Guardian, he is severely injured in the heart area and before he was to die, Kuro saves his life by forming a contract with him.  As long as the two are close together, he has the ability to heal Kuro and also develops his skill as a contractee.
  • Kuro Shishigami - One of the last remaining members of the Shishigami clan and a Tera Guardian.  She is after her brother Reishin Shishigami who murdered everyone in the clan (including their mother) except her.  She now has formed a bond with Keita and together they take on other enemy Tera Guardians.
  • Akane Sano – A childhood friend of Keita, Akane is in love with him but has a hard time expressing it to him.  She occasionally joins Keita and Kuro on their adventures.
  • Punipuni - Kuro’s small doberman pup and is always hungry.  He also seems to understand people when they talk to him.
  • Excel - A veteran contractee who worked with the Tera Guardian named Steiner and later Mikami.  She has the ability to create Hexagon shields.
  • Yakumo – A Tera Guardian that survived the massacre and does all he can to protect Kuro.  His contractee is Riona Kogure and both are often traveling with Kuro and Keita.
  • Riona Kogure - A contractee of Yakumo.  She escaped from the Kaionji group when she found out that she was going to be experimented on.
  • Mikami Houjou – A powerful Tera Guardian from the Ginko clan.  She once worked for the Kaionji group for medicine to give to her dying contractee.  She later forms a contract with Excel.

“Kurokami” vol. 5 features the episodes 17-20 of the TV series on one Blu-ray disc. Here is a brief, spoiler-free synopsis of each episode:

  • EPISODE 17 – Masagami – Kuro and Keita along with Yakumo and Riona arrive at the Pure Land and Kuro realizes a feeling that her brother Reishin is alive.  They also learn that all these Tera Guardians have arrived to capture the power of the Masagami.  Meanwhile the Noble One operatives take on Reishin.
  • EPISODE 18 – Cataclysm – Another Tera Guardian and his contractee takes on Kuro and Keita, meanwhile Excel forms a contract with Mikami and both take on Reishin.
  • EPISODE 19 – Abyss - Both Kuro and Keita find Reishin but are shocked to find out that Akane is alive but she has also formed a contract with Reishin.
  • EPISODE 20 – Awakening – Reishin reveals the truth about what happened to his people and why his and Kuro’s mother was killed.

VIDEO:

“Kurokami The Animation” is featured in 1080p High Definition. The series is quite vibrant and looks absolutely beautiful in HD. Blacks are nice and deep, colors pop and I didn’t notice any edge enhancement or compression artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kurokami The Animation” is presented in English PCM 2.0. And as mentioned in my previous review of volume 1 of the series, “Kurokami” does not include the lossless Japanese audio while the DVD does include both soundtracks. It is discussed on various message boards that because the series is being released at the same time in Japan, to prevent reverse importation, the lossless Japanese soundtrack was not granted for the U.S. release (note: In Japan, the Blu-ray release costs about three times as more than the U.S. release and to prevent reverse importation over there, they didn’t include English subtitles).

Unfortunately with Japan and the U.S. on the same region for Blu-ray releases and people demanding simultaneous or near simultaneous releases, this is easily going to be an issue for American anime fans if more series continue to feature the lack of a Japanese audio track.

As for the English dub, for the most part the English dubbing was well-done. Jason Griffith (as Keita) known for his work for the character Shadow for “Sonic X” does a very good job but anime voice acting veterans Laura Bailey (as Kuro) and Julie Ann Taylor (as Akane) do a solid job as the voice of their characters.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kurokami the Animation vol. 5″ contains the following special features:

  • Textless theme and ending themes - Included are one textless opening theme and one textless ending theme for “Kurokami the Animation”.
  • Bandai Entertainment Previews

Here we are with volume five of “Kurokami: The Animation” and not only is it an action-packed volume but also a major reveal is made that will alter everything that you have watched of the series thus far.  It’s a major bombshell that no doubt sets things in place for the awesome final sixth volume!

The fifth volume features the group’s arrival to the Pure Land and as many Tera Guardians are planning to gain access to the Masagami’s power, we see various Tera Guardians and contractees take on Kuro and Keita.  Meanwhile, we see the Noble Ones and also a return of Mikami and Excel (who have made a contract with each other) taking on Reishin Shishigami.

Everyone is involved in battle in this latest volume, including Kuro’s little dog Punipuni.

But what I loved about this latest volume is the various twists.  It’s one thing to have Reishin Shishigami back, but one after the other we see Mikami and Excel return, we see Akane return but also to find out that she has formed a contract with Reishin but then of course, the big reveal of episode 20.  Without spoiling anything, all I can say is WOW!

Overall, “Kurokami – The Animation” has become a magnificent anime series that with a pretty awesome storyline and really cool animation/background art and also fight sequences.  Especially this fifth volume alone.

I know that some people have been put off by the four episodes per volume of “Kurokami” instead of how other companies are offering 12 episodes per Blu-ray volume but the main thing to remember what Bandai Entertainment is doing is release simultaneous releases or very close releases in Japan and the US.  Other companies release titles that are literally a year, two years or many years old when they come out to the US.  And because of that, similar to what we, anime fans, had to do back during the LaserDisc (and even VHS) years, you end up paying a little more.  People still do that today with DVD and Blu-ray releases who want titles released in Japan now.

So, for those who want the latest Bandai Entertainment releases, there has to be a compromise and “Kurokami” can be found online for a good price, sure you don’t get the English dub but that’s because of reverse importation and the time of releases between Japan and the US are quite close.

So, if you want to watch an awesome series, I really recommend “Kurokami the Animation” on Blu-ray.  If you have watched the first four volumes thus far, it’s a no-brainer to get the fifth volume.  It really is an awesome volume thus far!

“Kurokami the Animation” is recommended!

Kurokami the Animation – Volume Three (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 7, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“Kurokami the Animation” is an action-driven series with a cool concept and if you have followed the first two volumes thus far, volume 3 (the final four episodes of season 1) literally ends with a bang and several characters lives are lost.  Definitely a highlight volume in the series with intense action and pretty awesome storyline thus far!  Definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2009-2010 Lim Dail Young, Park Sung Woo/Square Enix/Sunrise, Bandai Visual. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Kurokami – The Animation – Volume 3

DURATION: 100 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), English PCM 2.0,

COMPANY: Sunrise/Bandai Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED (Note: This anime does feature violence)

Release Date: October 5, 2010

 

Originally created by Dall-Young Lim, Sung-woo Park

Directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi

Series Composition by Reiko Yoshida

Original Character Design by Sung-woo Park

Character Design: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Director: Shunichiro Yoshihara

Chief Animation Director: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Design: Tomoyasu Fujise

Sound Director: Hiromi Kikuta

Director of Photography: Naoyuki Wada

Anime Production by Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jason Griffith as Keita Ibuki

Laura Bailey as Kuro

Christopher Kromer as Daichi Kuraki

Crispin Freeman as Reishin

Emily Bauer as Riona Kogure

Eva Kaminsky as Nam

Julie Ann Taylor as Akane Sano

Kathleen McInerney as Yuki Kaionji

Marc Thompson as Hiyou

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Mikami Hojo

Michael Sinterniklaas as Punipuni

Patrick Seitz as Steiner

Stephanie Sheh as Excel

Six months have passed since the battle against Reishin in Okinawa. Keita has been in a comatose state since then while the world changed around him. Kuraki has become the new vice-chairman of the Kaionji conglomerate and is set to fulfill his dream of forming a Utopia by manipulating the Doppeliner System. A band of Tera Guardians and supports have risen around Kuro to fight against this new enemy in a strange new world…

For the first eight episodes, we have been waiting for the confrontation between Kuro and Reishin, if anything, we knew from the episode 8 that things are going to heat up.

Well, let’s just say that “Kurokami the Animation – Volume Three” is not only hot, hot , hot!  These episodes feature significant battles, more answers and even several deaths of key characters.  Needless to say, if you have watched the first two volumes on Blu-ray, you’re definitely going to enjoy volume three!

For those who have never heard of “Kurokami”, in the world of “Kurokami” (“Black God”), one sometimes think they see another person that looks exactly like them (doppelganger) but in reality, there are three (doppeliner) which share the same life force (known as Tera). If by any chance, one was to see each other, one would die and the others would have that life force equally distributed. Making sure this “Coexistence Exquilibrium” is kept in check are the Tera Guardians.

This is the story of “Kurokami”, a 23-episode anime TV series which is an adaptation of a Japanese manga series by Dall-Young Lim and illustrated by Sung-Woo Park and is an ongoing series published in the magazine “Young Gangan”.

The anime series is directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi (“Glass no Kamen”, “Midori Days”, “Twelve Kingdoms”) and features series composition by Reiko Yoshida (“Aria”, “D.Gray-Man”, “Kaleido Star”, “Peach Girl”). Character designs are by Hiroyuki Nishimura (“Spirit of Wonder”, “Deltora Quest”) and music composed by Tomohisa Ishikawa (“Appleseed: Ex Machina”, “Kite Liberator”, “Innocent Venus”). And now the first volume of the anime series is released on Blu-ray and includes the first four episodes.

“Kurokami” revolves around a teenager named Keita Ibuki. When he was younger, his mother met someone that looked exactly like her and the next day she was hit by a car. So, the existence of a doppelganger has always been in his mind.

One night when he went out for ramen, he meets a girl named Kuro along with her dog Punipuni, they seem quite hungry. He offers her his ramen and all seems well until a madman comes out of nowhere and assaults her.

Keita tries to help her but is easily beaten by this madman. But what he sees is this girl’s incredible fighting power. After all is done and Kuro overcomes her assailant, she tells him that she is out to kill her brother.

The paths of both Keita and Kuro cross again and Kuro explains to her about the doppeliner and that she is a Tera Guardian. As Keita tries to deal with this and possibly learn why his mother died, his childhood friend Akane (who likes Keita) tries to help both Keita and Kuro as well.

One evening, a group of thugs with extreme power go after her again but this time, Keita tries to help but is mortally wounded. Kuro manages to escape with him but because he is dying, she decides to exchange hearts with him in order to keep him alive and thus a contract is created. But she warns him that they must be near each other at all times or her heart will become necrotic if its too far away from her. Keita has now become the contractee and his life is forever bonded with Kuro.

In volume 2 of “Kurokami the Animation”, Keita and Kuro confront a group of Tera Guardians in battle, meanwhile we learn about Kuro’s past and also information about Keita’s deceased mother. But most importantly, Keita is told the truth about his status of being a contractee and that contractee’s can easily be killed and are not invincible.

For Keita, his thought was that he wouldn’t die during a battle but now knowing that he is vulnerable may change his status of how he fights with Kuro.  Meanwhile, Keita, Kuro and Akane left to Okinawa and confronted two survivors from the Hiba Clan.

In volume 3, it appears that others are looking for the survivors of the Hiba Clan and while Reishin makes his appearance.  Keita discovers that contractees can be “negative roots” but would he ever dare going that direction.  Also, a friend who had been dead has made his appearance once again and the news he has for Keita will surprise him.

As Kuro prepares for her battle to the death with her brother Reishin, will she have to fight him alone?  Or will Keita be there for her?

“Kurokami” vol. 3 features the episodes 9-12 of the TV series on one Blu-ray disc. Here is a brief, spoiler-free synopsis of each episode:

  • EPISODE 9 – Shadows of My Mother – While Kuro trains in martial arts with Keita’s grandfather, Keita encounters his mother’s double.
  • EPISODE 10 – Outcome – Keita goes to rescue Kuro who is being held prisoner by Hiyou and takes on his mother’s double – a negative root.   Makana goes to help Kakuma.  Who will survive and who will die in this episode?
  • EPISODE 11 – Reunion - A friend of Keita, Sawamura, who supposedly died has re-appeared and reveals to Keita of his true plans.
  • EPISODE 12 – Confrontation – Kuro and Keita take on Reishin and get some help from Excel and Steiner.  Who will survive and who will die in this episode?

VIDEO:

“Kurokami The Animation” is featured in 1080p High Definition. The series is quite vibrant and looks absolutely beautiful in HD. Blacks are nice and deep, colors pop and I didn’t notice any edge enhancement or compression artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kurokami The Animation” is presented in English PCM 2.0. And as mentioned in my previous review of volume 1 of the series, “Kurokami” does not include the lossless Japanese audio while the DVD does include both soundtracks. It is discussed on various message boards that because the series is being released at the same time in Japan, to prevent reverse importation, the lossless Japanese soundtrack was not granted for the U.S. release (note: In Japan, the Blu-ray release costs about three times as more than the U.S. release and to prevent reverse importation over there, they didn’t include English subtitles).

Unfortunately with Japan and the U.S. on the same region for Blu-ray releases and people demanding simultaneous or near simultaneous releases, this is easily going to be an issue for American anime fans if more series continue to feature the lack of a Japanese audio track.

As for the English dub, for the most part the English dubbing was well-done. Jason Griffith (as Keita) known for his work for the character Shadow for “Sonic X” does a very good job but anime voice acting veterans Laura Bailey (as Kuro) and Julie Ann Taylor (as Akane) do a solid job as the voice of their characters.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kurokami the Animation vol. 3″ contains the following special features:

  • Bandai Entertainment Previews

“Kurokami the Animation” vol. 3 is literally the volume everyone who has been watching the series has been waiting for.  Battles against Reishin, battles against Hiyou…and literally more death and destruction.  Needless to say, a good number of people are killed in this latest volume and some characters, you’ll be shocked about their demise.  This is an action-packed volume but also a volume that answers some questions into the capabilities of the contractee but also how various groups are pulling strings.

Needless to say, after the fight with Reishin, things will never be the same in this “Kurokami” series and ends the first season with a bang!

As for positives, the major positive aside from the story is this series looks fantastic on Blu-ray. Character designs are well done and are vibrant onscreen, the detailed artistic backgrounds definitely look beautiful and the fighting sequences look absolutely fluid. I didn’t catch any edge enhancement or any significant artifacting but I haven’t compared the DVD to the Blu-ray series either. But I’m confident on how beautiful this series is on Blu-ray.

On the negative side, I think that many anime fans who prefer a Japanese soundtrack and also prefer to purchase anime on Blu with a lossless Japanese audio soundtrack. So, I can feel their pain! As mentioned, with Japan and U.S. sharing the same region on Blu-ray and with people wanting simultaneous (or near-simultaneous) releases, this is going to be a major issue in the near future and I hope this is something that can be resolved for future releases.

The other negative that I can think of for anime fans is episodes per volume. With other anime companies releasing complete series or breaking down their releases by a dozen episodes, “Kurokami” which is a 23-episode series features only four episodes per volume and also a release that doesn’t come with much special features aside from the textless opening and ending themes.   In vol. 3, you only get the Bandai trailers.  So, there really isn’t much in terms of special features to begin with.   So, as more and more anime are being released in the US ala Blu-ray each month, unfortunately for those who are on a strict budget may find themselves looking for a series with more bang for the buck.

Overall, “Kurokami – The Animation” is an entertaining anime series that so far features a solid storyline and really cool animation/background art. Volume 3 is pretty awesome and the creators had to pull the death card several times to make this season 1 end with a bang!  I look forward to the continuing of the series (season 2) in the next volume of “Kurokami”!

If you have watched the first two volumes thus far, you’re going to love (or be shocked) by the third.  Definitely a shining moment in the series thus far!  Recommended!

Kurokami The Animation – Volume One (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“Kurokami vol. 1″ boasts a solid, action-packed storyline and beautiful visuals on Blu-ray but the lack of a Japanese soundtrack may deter some anime fans.

Image courtesy of © 2009-2010 Lim Dail Young, Park Sung Woo/Square Enix/Sunrise, Bandai Visual. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Kurokami – The Animation – Volume 1

DURATION: 102 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), English Dolby TrueHD Audio 2.0, PCM 2.0,

COMPANY: Sunrise/Bandai Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED (Note: This anime does feature violence)

Release Date: March 9, 2010

 

Originally created by Dall-Young Lim, Sung-woo PArk

Directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi

Series Composition by Reiko Yoshida

Original Character Design by Sung-woo Park

Character Design: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Director: Shunichiro Yoshihara

Chief Animation Director: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Design: Tomoyasu Fujise

Sound Director: Hiromi Kikuta

Director of Photography: Naoyuki Wada

Anime Production by Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jason Griffith as Keita Ibuki

Laura Bailey as Kuro

Christopher Kromer as Daichi Kuraki

Crispin Freeman as Reishin

Emily Bauer as Riona Kogure

Eva Kaminsky as Nam

Julie Ann Taylor as Akane Sano

Kathleen McInerney as Yuki Kaionji

Marc Thompson as Hiyou

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Mikami Hojo

Michael Sinterniklaas as Punipuni

Patrick Seitz as Steiner

Stephanie Sheh as Excel

A world in which one’s happiness and misfortunes, even their lives are controlled by “luck”… In this world, there are three identical looking people in existence. Each of these three split between them an energy-like force called “Tera.” This energy can be attributed to the amount of “Luck” or “Life Energy” that an individual possesses.

Between those three, the one with the largest share of Tera is called the “Root” and the two possessing a lesser amount are called the “Sub.” If a Sub should ever meet up with another person that looks just like them, they will die. Their Tera will then be absorbed by the remaining two. If two Subs run into each other, they both perish, leaving the entire amount of Tera to be absorbed by the Root. That individual then becomes a “Master Root” and comes into possession of an enormous amount of luck and leads a life with success at every turn. This is the hidden truth of existence in the World of Humans and is called the “Doppeliner System.”

In accordance to the rules of the Doppeliner System, there exist beings who observe the human world, maintaining the balance of Tera, known as the “Coexistence Equilibrium.” These beings possess abilities that surpass those of normal human beings, and reside in hiding in places known as the “Pure Place” in tribes. They are called the Tera Guardians. This is a tale of battle that begins with the meeting between a human boy named Keita and a young Tera Guardian girl named Kuro.

In the world of “Kurokami” (“Black God”), one sometimes think they see another person that looks exactly like them (doppelganger) but in reality, there are three (doppeliner) which share the same life force (known as Tera).  If by any chance, one was to see each other, one would die and the others would have that life force equally distributed.    Making sure this “Coexistence Exquilibrium” is kept in check are the Tera Guardians.

This is the basis of “Kurokami”, a 23-episode anime TV series which is an adaptation of a Japanese manga series by Dall-Young Lim and illustrated by Sung-Woo Park and is an ongoing series published in the magazine “Young Gangan”.

The anime series is directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi (“Glass no Kamen”, “Midori Days”, “Twelve Kingdoms”) and features series composition by Reiko Yoshida (“Aria”, “D.Gray-Man”, “Kaleido Star”, “Peach Girl”).  Character designs are by Hiroyuki Nishimura (“Spirit of Wonder”, “Deltora Quest”) and music composed by Tomohisa Ishikawa (“Appleseed: Ex Machina”, “Kite Liberator”, “Innocent Venus”).  And now the first volume of the anime series is released on Blu-ray and includes the first four episodes.

“Kurokami” revolves around a teenager named Keita Ibuki.   When he was younger, his mother met someone that looked exactly like her and the next day she was hit by a car.  So, the existence of a doppelganger has always been in his mind.

One night when he went out for ramen, he meets a girl named Kuro along with her dog Punipuni, they seem quite hungry.  He offers her his ramen and all seems well until a madman comes out of nowhere and assaults her.

Keita tries to help her but is easily beaten by this madman.  But what he sees is this girl’s incredible fighting power.  After all is done and Kuro overcomes her assailant, she tells him that she is out to kill her brother.

The paths of both Keita and Kuro cross again and Kuro explains to her about the doppeliner and that she is a Tera Guardian.  As Keita tries to deal with this and possibly learn why his mother died, his childhood friend Akane (who likes Keita) tries to help both Keita and Kuro as well.

One evening, a group of thugs with extreme power go after her again but this time, Keita tries to help but is mortally wounded.  Kuro manages to escape with him but because he is dying, she decides to exchange hearts with him in order to keep him alive and thus a contract is created.  But she warns him that they must be near each other at all times or her heart will become necrotic if its too far away from her.

Now the two must deal with their new lives together but at the same time knowing that they will be the hunted.

“Kurokami” vol. 1 features the first four episodes of the TV series.  Here is a brief, spoiler-free synopsis of each episode:

  • EPISODE 1- Doppeliner System – Keita and Kuro meet each other for the first time.
  • EPISODE 2 – Pact – Keita is badly injured while trying to help Kuro and in order to save his life, the Terra Guardian Kuro makes a pact with him.
  • EPISODE 3 – Synchro – Tsubota-sensei tries to help Keita but it appears that Tsubota may be something much more than a teacher.
  • EPISODE 4 – Tracker – Tera Guardian Steiner and Excel start to follow Akane for some reason.

VIDEO:

“Kurokami” is featured in 1080p High Definition.  I have to say that for a TV series, this is probably one of the most beautiful looking (and more recent) anime to show up on Blu-ray in the U.S.  Artistic backgrounds are highly detailed and for any Japanophile anime fan who is watching this series, can only be happy by seeing so many scenes around in Japan featuring this beautiful artistic backgrounds.  Character animation is also well done especially during the fighting sequences which are well-animated.

Overall, “Kurokami” looks fantastic on Blu-ray.  A lot of detail, I didn’t notice any edge enhancement nor did I see any more compression artifacts.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kurokami” is featured in English Dolby TrueHD Audio 2.0 and is front channel driven.  The lossless audio is enjoyable to listen to but what is surprising is that it is not in 5.1.  Also, this is the first Bandai release where the Blu-ray does not include the lossless Japanese audio while the DVD does include both soundtracks.  It is said that because the series is being released at the same time in Japan, to prevent reverse importation, the lossless Japanese soundtrack was not granted for the U.S. release (note: In Japan, the Blu-ray release costs about three times as more than the U.S. release and to prevent reverse importation over there, they didn’t include English subtitles).

Unfortunately with Japan and the U.S. on the same region for Blu-ray releases and people demanding simultaneous or near simultaneous releases, this is easily going to be an issue for American anime fans if more series continue to feature the lack of a Japanese audio track.

As for the English dub, for the most part the English dubbing was well-done.  Jason Griffith (as Keita) known for his work for the character Shadow for “Sonic X” does a very good job but anime voice acting veterans Laura Bailey (as Kuro) and Julie Ann Taylor (as Akane) do a solid job as the voice of their characters.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kurokami” contains the following special features in 1080p and 480p:

  • Textless Opening - Textless opening for “Sympathizer” by Minami Kuribayashi
  • Textless Ending – Textless ending theme for “Irodori no Nai Sekai” by Minami Kuribayashi
  • Bandai Entertainment Previews

“Kurokami” has turned out to be a fantastic series thus far.  The anime is definitely for those who enjoy action, especially fighting-based anime series.  The concept of the “doppeliner” is pretty cool but with only four episodes, it will be interesting to see where this series is headed.  But for these first four episodes alone, I was definitely pleased by the series.

As for positives, the major positive aside from the story is this series looks fantastic on Blu-ray.  The detailed artistic backgrounds definitely look beautiful and the fighting sequences look absolutely fluid.  Please note that I haven’t seen the DVD version to do any comparisons but with so many anime TV series upconverted for Blu-ray, it was great to see an anime TV series native to HD and look so beautiful.

On the negative side, I think that many anime fans who prefer the Japanese soundtrack let alone lossless Japanese audio soundtrack are reeling of the lack of inclusion of it.  As mentioned, with Japan and U.S. sharing the same region on Blu-ray and with people wanting simultaneous (or near-simultaneous) releases, this is going to be a major issue in the near future.

The other negative that I can think of for anime fans is episodes per volume.  With other anime companies releasing complete series or breaking down their releases by a dozen episodes, “Kurokami” which is a 23-episode series features only four episodes per volume.

Overall, “Kurokami – The Animation” is an entertaining anime series that so far features a solid storyline, beautiful animation and painted backgrounds and looks great on Blu-ray.  Although not a perfect release especially without the Japanese lossless, definitely a series worth considering for your anime on Blu-ray collection!

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