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Boruto – Naruto the Movie (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a big fan of the “Naruto” manga/anime series, I highly recommend “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”. Action-packed, full of drama and excitement. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto/2007 Shippuden, BMP 2015. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Boruto – Naruto the Movie

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 2015

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: March 28, 2017


Originally Created by Masashi Kishimoto

Director: Hiroyuki Yamashita

Screenplay: Masashi Kishimoto

Character Design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Masashi Kishimoto, Tetsuya Nishio

Music by -yaiba-, Yasuharu Takanashi

Art by Akemi Konno, Kazuyuki Hashimoto, Kentaro Akiyama, Masanobu Nomura, Mutsuo Koseki, Naruyo Kiriyama, Satoshi Matsuoka

Art Design by Hiroto Tanaka, Masaaki Endou

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Nishio

Anime Production: Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Yuko Sanpei/Amana C. Miller as Boruto Uzumaki

Akira Ishida/Liam O’Brien as Gaara

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Uchiha

Daisuke Namikawa/Xander Mobus as Momoshiki

Hana Takeda/Laura Bailey as Kurotsuchi

Hidenori Takahashi/Max Mittelman as Konohamaru Sarutobi

Hiroki Yasumoto/Wally Wingert as Kinshiki Otsusuki

Kokoro Kikuchi/Cherami Leigh as Sarada Uchiha

Kouki Miyata/Brian Beacock as Chōjūrō

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Uzumaki

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

Ryota Takeuchi/Catero Colbert as Darui

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Mitsuki

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Showtaro Morikubo/Tom Gibis as Shikamaru Nara

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee

Atsushi Abe/Spike Spencer as Inojin Yamanaka

Hisao Egawa/Catero Colbert as Killer Bee

Kengo Kawanishi/Bryce Papenbrook as Yurui

Kensho Ono/Todd Haberkorn as Shikadai Nara

Saori Hayami/Melissa Fahn as Himawari Uzumaki

Yukari Tamura/Danielle Judovits as Tenten


Boruto: Naruto the Movie takes place in the Hidden Leaf Village with Naruto as the Seventh Hokage. The Hidden Leaf Village is planning to host the Chunin Exams to train new shinobi from the village and from their allied villages. Among the entrants are Sasuke’s daughter, Sarada, Mitsuki, an exceptionally talented yet mysterious shinobi… And Boruto, Naruto’s talented but impetuous son.

Meanwhile, Sasuke who’s been on a mission in another dimension appears before Naruto to warn of a strange impending danger. Shrouded with an evil aura, Momoshiki and Kinshiki appear and attempt to assassinate Naruto. Petrified, Boruto is shielded by Naruto, only to disappear in front of Boruto’s own eyes.


The popular manga series “Naruto” has been going strong since its debut in Shueisha back in 1999 via “Weekly Shonen Jump” magazine.   With 72 volumes published, the manga series ended in November 2014.  Meanwhile, the anime series, the first titled “Naruto” began in 2002-2007 and lasted for 220 episodes.  And would continue with “Naruto: Shippuden” which lasted from 2007-2017 with a total of 500 episodes created.

The original manga by Masashi Kishimoto is about a young ninja named Naruto Uzamaki, a ninja of the Konoha leaf village who grew up facing prejudiced within his fellow ninjas because the evil nine-tailed fox was sealed inside him. But throughout the series, we have seen how Naruto is a kind-hearted boy who has worked hard in protecting his friends and staying true to his word with the goal of someday becoming the next Hokage of the village.

In 2014, Kishimoto wrapped up the “Naruto” manga and in the final chapter (featured in volume 72), Naruto would eventually become the Hokage of the Leaf Village and he and his wife Hinata would have two children, Boruto and Himawari.

Meanwhile, Sasuke and Sakura would have a daughter named Sarada, Shikamaru Nara and Temari would have a son named Shikadai, Sai and Ino would have a son named Inojin and Choji Akimichi and Karui would have a daughter named Chocho.

Everyone has grown up and Naruto is busy as the new Hokage at the village, this causes resentment from Naruto’s son Boruto who feels that his father was never there for him or the family.

This leads us to the film “Boruto – Naruto the Movie” which featured anime production from Studio Pierrot, direction by Hiroyuki Yamashita, a screenplay by Masashi Kishimoto, music by -yaiba- and Yasuharu Takanashi and character design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Masashi Kishimoto and Tetsuya Nishio and art design by Hiroto Tanaka and Masaaki Endou.

The film begins with Boruto telling his story and him and his team partners, Sarada and Mitsuki being trained by Master Konohamaru and trying to capture a bear (or panda).   After their mission, the four go to see Naruto, the Seventh Hokage.

And as Boruto gets into a little argument with his father (for not being part of his life due to his duties as Hokage), he reminds his father about his sister and Naruto’s daughter, Himawari’s birthday and how he needs to be there.

Meanwhile a scientist comes in and introduces the group to a new invention.  Now, a jutsu can be contained in a mini-seal and put into a bracelet which gives anyone, ninja or not, the power to use a jutsu.  No chakra is even needed to use the new technology and the scientists want it used for the upcoming Chunin exam but Naruto is against it and believes a ninja should use their own skills.

Meanwhile, Boruto meets with the scientist and takes the special bracelet.

With the next Chunin exams coming up, Sarada and Mitsuki want to take the exam but Boruto, he has no desire.  He doesn’t want to be like his father and that means not wanting to be Hokage.  But for Sarada, she wants to be Hokage and tries to get Boruto to take part in the Chunin exam to let his father know he could do it.

Meanwhile, Sasuke Uchiha returns to the village and Boruto, not wanting to be anything like his father, goes to Sasuke to take him in as a pupil.  But Sasuke will only agree if Boruto can learn the Sharingan jutsu.

As the groups get ready for their Chunin Exam to see who will become a ninja, round three will be in front of a public audience.  During a battle Boruto uses the bracelet to best his opponent, but for Naruto, he is disappointed that his son resorted to such a tactic and disqualifies his son from the Chunin exam and also taking away his ninja bandana as punishment.

This leads to an argument and Boruto complains that his father is never there for him.  Meanwhile, a new evil force attacks everyone at the Chunin Exam.


VIDEO:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the film looks vibrant.  Colors look fantastic in HD and with this being a film ,there is a good amount of backgrounds and detail in the background artwork.  Picture quality is fantastic!

I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0. Both soundtracks are fantastic and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the center, front and surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Special Naruto OVA – (10:23) It’s Naruto’s big day as his inauguration as Hokage is about to take place.  But time’s getting late because Boruto and Himawari are arguing.  But what happens when Boruto upsets his little sister?
  • Clean End Credits
  • Storyboards – Featuring a gallery of the storyboards for the film
  • Art Gallery – Featuring an art gallery from the film.
  • Trailer – Featuring the Japanese trailers.

Watching “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”, I can’t help but be entertained by the fact that the film focuses on the children of the characters that many of us grew up reading.

“Naruto” having lasted so long as a manga and anime series was a big part of the lives of many people who watched “Naruto” grow from a child, to a teenager and a young adult.  Seeing how his heart and his passion would inspire so many but also seeing him determined to defeat those who threatened the village or his friends.

With Naruto, he is a student that felt he had to prove himself through hardwork and determination.

So, it’s fascinating to see how Boruto is much different than his father.  Naruto, who had always said he would become Hokage is now the new Hokage of the Leaf Village but this new role means being busy with work and unfortunately, that means no time spent with the family.

Hinata is literally taking care of both children and you can see how Boruto is upset at his father for neglecting them, but he harbors a bit of anger for his father not being there for him.

What’s even more interesting is that Boruto is not too aware of his father’s past and how he grew up, so he is not aware of the challenges or difficulties his father grew up with.

And because of his feelings towards his father, he asks his dad’s rival, Sasuke Uchiha to become his master.

But during this peaceful time, a lot has changed as well.  Scientists have developed bracelets with technology that allow anyone to harness jutsu used by ninjas and to make things worse, a new evil has decided to attack the Leaf Village during the Chunin exams (like what happened to Naruto and friends when he was much younger).

And I’ll leave it that.

This is a new beginning, a new chapter as Boruto will continue the storyline of the ninjas at the Leaf Village and while I’m not sure if “Boruto” will last for another 15 years but for this film to jumpstart the new generation and Naruto’s son, Boruto, now the focal point, needless to say, this series will be interesting, considering that he’s not like his father at all.

And if you think Boruto Uzumaki has special skills learned from his father, wait until one gets to see the included OVA which shows us how powerful Himawari Uzumaki can get.

As for the Blu-ray release, the film is vibrant and with it being a film, has more detail when it comes to art backgrounds.  Lossless soundtrack is also well-done and the voice acting for both Japanese and English dub are magnificent.

Overall, if you are a big fan of the “Naruto” manga/anime series, I highly recommend “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”.  Action-packed, full of drama and excitement.

Recommended

 

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

March 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: December 27, 2016


Directed by Takashi Sano

Series Composition by Natsuko Takahashi

Character Design by Michinori Chiba

Art Director: Daisuke Jinba

Chief Animation Director: Toshimitsu Kobayashi, Yumenosuke Tokuda

Anime Production by Telecom Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kazuya Nakai/Robert McCollum as Date Masamune

Souichiro Hoshi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Sanada Yukimura

Tomokazu Seki/Matthew Mercer as Ishida Mitsunari

Toru Ohkawa/Liam O’Brien as Tokugawa Ieyasu

Ami Koshimizu/Kat Steel as Tsuruhime

Fumihiko Tachiki/Mark Stoddard as Ohtani Yoshitsugu

Jun Fukuyama/Tony Oliver as Kobayakawa Hideaki

Kenichi Ogata/R. Bruce Elliott as Shimazu Yoshihiro

Mamiko Noto/Laura Bailey as Oichi

Masakazu Morita/Eric Vale as Maeda Keiji

Natsuko Kuwatani/Stephanie Sheh as Kasuga

Noriaki Sugiyama/Brittney Karbowski as Otomo Sourin

Rikiya Koyama/Richard Epcar as Kuroda Kanbee

Romi Park/Greg Ayres as Uesugi Kenshin

Takehito Koyasu/Michael Sinterniklaas as Sarutobi Sasauke

Tessho Genda/Chris Ayres as Takeda Shingen

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Travis Willingham as Katakura Kojuro


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Star Wars Rebels” is fantastic! The adventures, the action, the characters and great writing make the entire series, so worth watching! If you have been curious about “Star Wars Rebels”, I highly recommend checking out “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One”!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 331 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio), English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TV Y7 FV

Release Date: September 1, 2015


Directed by Steward Lee, Dave Filoni, Steven G. Lee, Justin Ridge

Written by Simon Kinberg, Carrie Beck, Dave Filoni, George Lucas, Greg Weisman, Kevin Hopps, Henry Gilroy, Katie Lucas

Producer: Kiri Hart, Athena Yvette Portillo

Executive Producer:  Davi Filoni, Simon Kinberg, Greg Weisman

Associate Producer: Carrie Beck

Music by Kevin Kiner

Edited by Alex McDonnell, Joe E. Elwood

Casting by Aaron Drown

Art Direction by Kilian Plunkett


Starring:

Vanessa Marshall as Hera Syndulla

Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan Jarrus

Steve Blum as Zeb Orrelios

Taylor Gray as Ezra Bridger

Tiya Sircar as Sabine Wren

David Oyelowo as Agent Kallus

Jason Isaacs as The Inquisitor

Kath Soucie as Maketh Tua

Dee Bradley Baker as Admiral Kassius Konstantine

Ashley Eckstein as Fulcrum

David Shaughnessy as Taskmaster Grint

Brent Spiner as Gall Trayvis

Liam O’Brien as Yogar Lyste

Jonny Rees as Baron Valen Rudor

Keith Szarabajka as Cikatro Vizago

Stephen Stanton as Grand Moff Tarkin


A spark of rebellion ignites in Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One! Star Wars Rebels continues the epic tradition of the legendary Star Wars saga with exciting action-packed episodes. It is a dark time in the galaxy as the evil Galactic Empire rules with an iron fist. Imperial forces have occupied a remote planet, ruining the lives of its people. A ragtag band of rebels — Ezra, Hera, Kanan, Sabine, Zeb and Chopper — have taken a brave stand against the ruthless oppression of the Empire in a fight to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy.


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With the completion of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” comes a new American 3D CGI animated television series from Lucasfilm and Lucasfilm Animation titled “Star Wars Rebels”.

Set 14 years after “Revenge of the Sith” and five years before “New Hope”, “Star Wars Rebels” takes place during a time when nearly all jedi’s have been hunted and killed and the Galactic Empire rules the galaxy.

With a total of 13-episodes, the series features a visual style that is inspired by the original “Star Wars” trilogy concept art by Ralph McQuarrie.

“Star Wars Rebels” will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Disney.

“Star Wars Rebels” begins with an introduction to a young teenage thief named Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray) who lives in the Empire-controlled planet, Lothal.

One day, Ezra tries to steal a shipment from the Empire, but also after the shipment is the crew of The Ghost.

The crew consists of Ghost crew leader and jedi survivor Kanan Jarrus (voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr.); pilot and owner of the Ghost, the Twi’lek named Hera Syndulla (voiced by Vanessa Marshall); weapons and explosives expert and Mandalorian graffiti artist Sabine Wren (voiced by Tiya Sircar); the tough Lasat honor guard Zeb Orrelios (voiced by Stephen Blum) and Hera’s droid C1-10P a.ka. “Chopper”.

After saving Ezra from doom, because of his skills of survival, the crew of the Ghost invite Ezra to join their crew.  And because Ezra is able to sense things with the Force, Kanan accepts Ezra as his padawan and to help him control his newfound power.

As any word of rebels rebelling against the Empire can create the potential of insurgencies, Darth Vader sends their high-ranking agent of the Imperial Security Bureau named Agent Kallus (voiced by David Oyelwo) and an Inquisitor (an agency of the Dark Jedi in the Galactic Empire) to go after the crew of the Ghost.

Here is a spoiler-free synopsis of each episode in season 1:

  • Episode 1 – Droids in Distress – Ezra and the crew of the Ghost try to steal a shipment of disruptor weapons.
  • Episode 2 – Fighter Flight – Because they got off on a bad start, Hera sends Ezra and Zeb on a supply run together.
  • Episode 3 – Rise of the Old Masters – The rebels discover an underground transmission that Jedi Master Luminara Undul has survived Order 66 and is being held in a high-security Imperial prison on Stygeon rime.  The crew wants to free the Jedi Master.
  • Episode 4 – Breaking Ranks – Ezra goes undercover as an Imperial Academy cadet and befriends two cadets.
  • Episode 5 – Out of Darkness – Hera and Sabine go to an abandoned Republic asteroid base to retrieve supplies.
  • Episode 6 – Empire Day – A parade celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Empire’s creation.  Ezra finds out that his Rodian friend Tseebo is wanted by the Empire.
  • Episode 7 – Gathering Forces – Ezra finds out distressing news from Tseebo in regards to his parents.
  • Episode 8 – Path of the Jedi – Seeing Ezra’s anger during the fight against the Inquisitor, Kanan brings Ezra to a hidden Jedi Temple in Lothal for training.
  • Episode 9 – Idiot’s Array – Zeb has lost a bet with smuggler Lando Calrissian, and now the crew must assist Lando.
  • Episode 10 – Vision of Hope – Ezra has a vision of meeting Gall Trayvis, an exiled Imperial senator and rebel sympathizer.
  • Episode 11 – Call to Action – The rebels debate to broadcast their message to nearby star systems about their cause.
  • Episode 12 – Rebel Resolve – The crew of the Ghost try to find a way to rescue Kanan from the Empire.
  • Episode 13 – Fire Across the Galaxy – The search and rescue of Kanan continues in the season finale.

 


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VIDEO:

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  “Star Wars Rebels” features its own unique visual style and for the most part, it’s pretty cool to see how much detail is put into the space vehicles and the planets.  While closeups do show skin detail and the lips match the dialogue really well, the Stormtroopers have lights of the interior of the vehicles bouncing of their uniforms and for the most part, the series features really good lighting effects.

Granted, the CG animation is subjective to the viewer if one likes the visuals of the CG animated series, but for me, I felt the series was well-animated and there was great attention in creating the various worlds, vehicle usage and also overall effects were well-done.

I did not notice any artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of each episode.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” is presented in English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital with subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.

I would say that I’m a bit surprised that the series on Blu-ray does not utilize a DTS-HD Master Audio track like the final three seasons of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” but in this case, they decided to go with a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack.

While dialogue is crystal clear, especially the John Williams musical score and light saber sound effects and utilizing the surround channels for the action sequences, it would have been awesome to have a lossless soundtrack for the Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” comes with the following special features:

  • Rebels Recon – (44:07) 14 featurettes from “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” that were featured on StarWars.com
  • Rebels Infiltrates Star Wars Celebration – (4:03) The Q&A for “Star Wars: Rebels” at Star Wars Celebration.
  • Rebels: The Ultimate Guide – (22:05) A special first season recap narrated by Kanan.
  • Season 2: A Look Ahead – (7:02) A featurette of things to look for in season 2 by Executive Producer Dave Filoni.

EXTRAS:

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” comes with a slipcover and a DisneyMovieRewards code.


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As the world highly anticipate the new “Star Wars” films, for those who have enjoyed any of the “Star Wars” animated series can easily enjoy the storyline of “Star Wars Rebels”.

As there are rebel cells in the galaxy who fight the oppression of the Empire, “Star Wars Rebels” is fairly interesting as the Ghost Crew consists of a Jedi and a thief turned jedi-in-training plus a tough Lasat honor guard that young male audiences can enjoy, the show also takes a step in the right direction of including two strong female characters.

You have a Twi-lek owner and pilot of the Ghost and female teen graffiti artist in Mandalorian outfit and helmet and is a weapons expert.  So, you have a good balance of characters that will no doubt entertaining both male and female audiences and it’s centered around the whole “Star Wars” universe, so you can definitely expect to see C-3PO and R2-D2, Lando Calrissian and yes, even baddies such as Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin.

And for fans of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, many will be happy to see the return of Jedi Ahsoka Tano (who was the Padawan apprentice of Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”), but this time as an adult.

While “Star Wars” fans also get to enjoy a few episodes written by George Lucas, the overall writing and voice acting for the series is fantastic.  Each episode is adventurous and also full of peril and each episode features something with a character(s) that has an effect in the next or later episodes.  So, unlike animated series which tend to have its own isolated episode with no connection to each other, “Star Wars Rebels” episodes have a connection which I enjoyed.

As for the Blu-ray release, I absolutely enjoy the visual look of “Star Wars: Rebels”.  Great character and mechanical designs that feature detailed CG that look vibrant on Blu-ray.  I did not notice any artifacts or banding issues.  As for the soundtrack, unfortunately it’s not a lossless soundtrack, but it’s still a strong 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack featuring clear dialogue, music and special effects.

As for special features, the series comes with plenty of special features including 14 featurettes as featured on StarWars.com, a short Star Wars Celebration featurette (exclusive on Blu-ray), a recap episode and a look ahead of what to expect in season 2.

Overall, “Star Wars Rebels” is fantastic!  The adventures, the action, the characters and great writing make the entire series, so worth watching!

If you have been curious about “Star Wars Rebels”, I highly recommend checking out “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One”!

Fate/stay night – Collection 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fate/stay night” is an enjoyable action-packed anime series and one of the better series based off a video game.  If you love the video games or just craving for an action anime series, “Fate/stay night – Collection 1” is recommended.

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © 2013 Sentai Filmworks.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fate/stay night – Collection 1

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2006

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition/16×9, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14V

Release Date: January 29, 2013

Directed by Yuji Yamaguchi

Screenplay by Takuya Sato

Music by Kenji Kawai

Original Concept by Kinoku Nasu

Original Character Design by Takashi Takeuchi

Character Design by Megumi Ishihara

Art Director: Toshihisa Koyama

Anime Production by STUDIO DEEN

Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayako Kawasumi/Michelle Ruff as Saber

Junichi Suwabe/Liam O’Brien as Archer

Kana Ueda/Mela Lee as Rin Tohsaka

Noriaki Sugiyama/Sam Regal as Shirou Emiya

Atsuko Tanaka/Tara Platt as Caster

Hiroshi Kamiya/Doug Erholtz as Shinji Matou

Jouji Nakata/Taylor Henry as Kirei Kotomine

Mai Kadowaki/Jennifer Sekiguchi as Illyasviel von Einzbern

Miki Itou/Julie Ann Taylor as Taiga “Tiger / Fuji-nee” Fujimura

Nobutoshi Canna/Tony Oliver as Lancer

Noriko Shitaya/Sherry Lynn as Sakura Matou

Shinichiro Miki/David Vincent as Assassin

Tadahisa Saizen/Michael McConnohie as Berserker

Tomokazu Seki as Gilgamesh

Yuu Asakawa/Kevin Strassman as Rider

Kazuhiro Nakata/Patrick Seitz as Soichiro Kuzuki

Rikiya Koyama/ as Kiritsugu Emiya

Raised by a mysterious sorcerer after the horrific death of his parents, Shiro Emiya has only just begun to help others using the small tidbits of magic that he’s learned. However, when he’s suddenly caught in a battle between two more powerful Magus, Shiro finds himself performing a spell above his expected ability, summoning the beautiful spirit warrior Saber to protect him! But safety is only momentary as Shiro and Saber now find themselves thrust into in a secret world of dark magic and deadly challenges: a no-holds barred duel to the death known as the Holy Grail War!

At stake is a prize of unimaginable power, but can the inexperienced Shiro and Saber survive long enough to even enter the contest? First they’ll have to withstand waves of treachery and assassination, even as Shiro scrambles to learn everything he’ll need to know to stay alive as seven teams of Magus and Spirit Servants face off in mortal combat!

When it comes to video games and its characters, I don’t think I’ve seen a title derived from a video game, within the last decade, achieve so much attention than the “Fate” series from TYPE-MOON.  This series has captivated people from all over the world, merchandise continues to sell very well (considering its price for importing) and it’s quite impressive to see how the fanbase continues to grow and are dedicated to “Fate”!

My first introduction to the “Fate/stay night” was just hearing about the original anime TV series.  But it was the first PSP video game release (“Fate/unlimited codes” on the PlayStation Network that actually got me hyped for this series and made me learn more about the characters.

The more I researched, the more I started to noticed that a lot of people online were excited about this video game and discussing the anime series and while I never really understood the commotion of the series, I figured there were so many fighting games in Japan with characters that people go crazy for.

But then the Sony PSP game came out on the PlayStation Network and the huge number of posts on Danny Choo’s official website in regards to dolls or figures, may they be the release of Nendoroids from Good Smile! or FIGMA figures from Max Factory, suffice to say, I’ve seen the popularity for this “Fate/stay night” achieve critical mass not just in Japan but all over the world.

At Anime Expo 2011, I attended a press conference which featured the release of a “Fate Extra” and once again, I’ve seen fans going crazy.  In 2012, the Blu-ray and DVD of “Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works” was released by Sentai Filmworks and now in 2013, the first volume of the original 2006 anime series will be released in January 2013.

The TV series is directed by Yuji Yamaguchi (“Yami to Boshi to Hon no Tabibito”, “Angel Links”, “Fate/stay night”), screenplay by Takuya Sato (“Armored Troopers Votoms Case; Irvine”, “Mission-E”, “Ichigo Mashimaro”), music by Kenji Kawai (“Devilman”, “Eyeshield 21″, “Eden of the East”, “Dai-Guard”, “Blue Seed”), character designs by Megumi Ishihara (“Moonlight Lady”, “Kakyusei”) and art direction by Toshihisa Koyama (“.hack//Liminality”, “Halo Legends”, “Kiddy Grade”, “Outlaw Star”).  Anime Production is by Studio DEEN.

What is “Fate/stay night”?

“Fate/stay night” is a Japanese visual novel developed by Type-Moon and was originally an adult game for the PC and then later released for the PlayStation 2.  The popularity of the video games led to a manga series which was serialized in Shonen Ace magazine and in 2007, a 24-episode anime series was released and a total of four video games.  In April 2012, the latest in the “Fate” anime series titled “Fate/Zero” (which is set 10 years before the events of “Fate/stay night”) began airing in Japan and the second season is still airing on television.

In 2010, Studio Deen released the film “Fate/stay night” and in 2012, Sentai Filmworks released the animated film, “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” on Blu-ray and DVD.  The film was comprised of important scenes from the original TV series that is 24-episodes long (12 hours) but unfortunately, with an abridged film at 105-minutes long, you miss out on a lot of story.

So, “Fate/stay night” will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“Fate/stay night” takes place during a time in which a war is developing between the magi.  For two centuries, seven sorcerers have gathered and engaged in a war known as “The Holy Grail War” in which the winner will be able to make their wish come true.

The Holy Grail War has occurred every 60  years and one war happened prematurely a decade ago.

For each of these magis, they will each be given a servant from one of seven classes:  Saber, Archer, Lancer, Berserker, Rider, Assassin and Caster.  And these servants must abide by their master’s request.  And as the magi will be able to make a wish, so will the servant.

The film focuses on a young man named Shiro Emiya, like his father, he wants to be a man of justice.  While staying late at school, he witnesses a fight between two servants: Archer vs. Lancer.  And because Shiro witnessed it, he is killed by Lancer.

Archer’s master, Rin, comes to the aid of Shiro by bringing him back to life.  Shiro has now been made to a magi and has been given the servant named Saber, and with this new power, Shiro vows to end this war for “The Holy Grail”.

But while each of the seven magi are to be enemies, Shiro is not that kind of person.  He respects Rin for saving his life and considers her his friend.  She tells him that they must be enemies but he refuses.  As Shiro, Saber and Rin are talking, they are attacked by Ilya and her giant servant known as Berserker.

While Saber does all she can to fight Berserker and protect her master Shiro, Rin also tries to protect Shiro….but her servant Archer is not thrilled that she has teamed up with Shiro/Saber. Rin tells him that for now, it would be good to work as a team and fight the other magi/servants.

And during the process of fighting against Berserker, Archer aims a devastating arrow towards both Berserker and Saber, hoping to kill both.  But Shiro manages to protect Saber and take the brunt of the damage.

The following morning, Shiro has completely healed and this leads to Shiro wanting to learn more about his servant and his new friend Rin, but also wanting to protect them.  And as Rin tries to explain that his sense of justice is going to hurt him (as they are all supposed to be enemies), Rin continues on the path of justice and wanting to protect the people he cares about.

But Shiro will quickly learn that while he may have Rin on his side, he and Saber have now become a target for the other five magi and their servants.

Will there be a true winner for this latest “Holy Grail War” or will Shiro find a way to end it?

VIDEO:

It’s important for people to know that “Fate/stay night” is an older anime series.  Not old-school but I usually feel that with series that were released 2009 and later, they tend to be HD native and look better.  But for older series, they either are remastered at a higher bitrate and in the case of “Fate/Stay night”, it’s a 1080i High Definition (16×9) release.

Fortunately, the series does look good for its age.  Colors are robust and while TV series are expected to have softness, fortunately the series is not too soft but you will see some banding and artifacts (not a lot but they are there).

But for those who have wanted “Fate/stay night” to be released on Blu-ray, for this 2006 anime series, you should be pleased by its overall picture quality as it does look better than many series that were upconverted to Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/stay night” is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  Typically, English soundtracks tend to have a more dynamic range as they are often fixed up for its US release.  In the case of this series, the Japanese audio actually has better dynamic range.  But both are well-acted and dialogue, music and sound effects are clear through the front channel.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fate/stay night” does not come with any special features.

Finally!  I can understand what the “Fate/stay night” storyline is all about!

Having played the video games and having seen the large dedicated fanbase for the “Fate/stay night” series in Japan, America and all over the world…I don’t think I have seen a video game receive so much recognition by fans worldwide.  You just don’t see people going crazy for “Street Fighter” or “King of Fighters” action figures but look online and there are fans that just go crazy for the video games and action figures.  And while I do feel that the character designs of the characters of “Fate/stay night” are quite cool to look at, I was drawn to it because of the character designs and for the fact that I am a fan of Japanese fighting video games.

And I am very  happy that Sentai Filmworks have released this animated series in the US.  Primarily to satisfy those who are big fans or are newer fans thanks to the video gae and the previous movie release.

While I do know that Japanese companies that sell the merchandise have done a fantastic job in making “alter” version and just continuing to give fans these wonderful looking versions of the characters and detailed outfits with the dolls and figures in Japan, here in America, more and more people are jumping on the “Fate/stay night” bandwagon.

As mentioned earlier, last summer I attended the “Fate Extra” reveal for the video game and the crowd went nuts when they saw the announcement of the game.  And similar to the video games, there is also innovation by trying to release the video games encompassing various genres instead of fighting video games.  From the adult PC game to the recent strategy tactic PSP game, fans are really enjoying the “Fate/stay night” series.  May it be the action figures, the dolls or the games, this is one series that fans all over the world are passionate about.

And therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if fans go after the Blu-ray or DVD release of “Fate/stay night”.

I’m quite biased towards the characters already and to finally now the context of what the story is about and the war between the seven magi’s, it’s a rather enjoyable concept, not necessarily unique, but it’s the characters that make this worthwhile.  There is non-stop action and while the animated series tends to focus more on Shiro and Rin, Saber and Archer fans will also enjoy this series.

A lot of action is featured throughout each episode and as mentioned earlier, unlike the movie which is 105 minutes of footage taken from the series, fans who saw the movie first, should be happy that they can see the series in its entirety on Blu-ray.

As for the Blu-ray release, it’s a 2006 anime TV series, so it is an upconvert, but compared to other anime series upconverts, it does look good.  Colors are vibrant at times but there are hints of softness, artifacts and banding as well.  But it’s expected for a series that is slightly older.  My only disappointment is the lack of any special features.

Exciting and action-packed, the first half of the series pretty much focuses on Shiro Emiya and Saber developing a relationship and taking on various challenges.  But things are definitely going to become much more difficult for the second half of the series.

Overall, “Fate/stay night” is an enjoyable action-packed anime series and one of the better series based off a video game.  If you love the video games or just craving for an action anime series, “Fate/stay night – Collection 1” is recommended.

 

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