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Prince of Stride: Alternative – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

This is an entertaining anime series for those who love sports anime that deal with teamwork, dealing with problems among the teammates and other situations that they must take on.  Sure, it’s a bit banal but for the most part, it’s an anime series with cool characters and wonderful animation from Madhouse that makes the series worth watching.

Images courtesy of © 2015 FIFS/PUBLISHED BY KADOKAWA ASCII AND MEDIA WORKS/POSA PARTNERS. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series

ANIME TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 HD Widescreen), English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 25, 2017


Directed by Atsuko Ishikzuka

Series Composition by Taku Kishimoto

Episode Director: Taku Kishimoto

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto, Taichi Maezuka

Anime Production: Madhouse


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ryouhei Kimura/Austin Tindle as Riku

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Ricco Fajardo as Takeru

Kana Hanazawa/Natalie Hoover as Nana

Kensho Ono/Clifford Chapin as Hozumi

Daisuke Ono/Jason Liebrecht as Heath

Hiro Shimono/Micah Solusod as Ayumu

Junichi Suwabe/Ivan Jasso as Kyosuke

J. Michal Tatum as Yujiro Dan

Daiki Yamashita/Todd Haberkorn as Tomoe

Greg Ayres as Amatsu


From studio Madhouse comes a new sport, a new experience, and a heart-racing series. Racers on your mark, get set—go!

Stride—where running and parkour reach new heights in a fast-paced sport that puts five runners and one Relationer’strust and speed to the test. At Honan Academy, Stride is a source of pride! Or at least it was until an incident broke the team apart. But with a new year, it’s time for the winds of change to blow in! New students Nana Sakurai and Takeru Fujiwara are ready to join, and after much persistence, pull in Riku Yagami. With their enthusiasm and abilities, this threesome is just what Honan needs to succeed. Except for one thing—their teamwork needs work. Talent is one thing, but this group of runners won’t be getting anywhere if they can’t learn to trust each other.

Together, Honan Stride may finally have what they need to compete with the best. But can this once broken team work together to overcome the many challenges that lie ahead? Just trust, connect, and find your stride.


Back in 2015, Kadokawa Games and Vridge created the otome game “Prince of Stride” for the Playstation Vita.  Based upon an extreme sport known as “Stride” in which teams compete in a race, the race includes extreme sports elements of parkour.

The following year, the game received an anime adaptation titled “Prince of Stride: Alternative”, a 12-episode anime series from Madhouse and was directed by Atsuko Ishizuka (“Sakura-so no Pet na Kanojo”) and a script by Taku Kishimoto.

The series is now available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Prince of Stride: Alternative” revolves around high school students who race for the “Stride” club for Honan Academy.  The first half features Takeru Fujiwara and Nana Sakurai needing to recruit six people for the club.

They try to recruit freshman Riku Yagami, who wants to play all sports and has no interest in Stride but Takeru and Nana drag Riku to their club office and are able to get him to join.

The club is going through restructuring and need six people after a scandal that rocked the team last year.

But training for “Stride” is challenging, vigorous and will take everything one has in order to win eastern Japan’s top stride competition, “End of Summer”.

But when a major injury happens to one of their teammates, will Honan Academy find a replacement in time for the next major competition?

Will Riku find a way to make himself faster?  And what is Nana’s connection to “Stride” competition outside of her duties at Honan Academy?  But most of all, can these team members work together?


VIDEO:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The series is well-animated, well-shaded and tends to feature hilarious character designs during the more comedy scenes, while showcasing emotion and drama during the most serious situations. Action scenes are well-animated, background art is well-detailed and painted beautifully.  Madhouse did a wonderful job with this series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” is presented in Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD.  Dialogue and music on the Blu-ray are both crystal clear and voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” comes with the opening and ending credits.

EXTRAS:

“Prince of Stride Alternative – The Complete Series” comes with a slipcase.


We are starting to see a number of anime adaptations based on otome video games (dating games typically a character trying to get close with one of the many male characters in a game).

“Prince of Stride: Alternative” is an anime series that some may find resembles series such as “Prince of Tennis” and “Yowamushi Pedal”, but the setting is “Stride” competitions (running/parkour), but with many male characters not just from the main Honan Academy but also guys from other competing teams.

But this anime series is crafted for guys and women to enjoy because the main story is about competition, teamwork and one pushing themselves to be better and in the end, hoping to win the primary tournament.

There is a lot of dramatic situations, as Takeru Fujiwara and Riku Yagami have their personal differences with each other.

A main arc shows how the team is hurting after a major injury to Stride racer, Ayumi Kadowaki.  The team is in need of a racer and there is one guy, Kyousuke Kuga, a former team member who quit the team after a few members ganged up on fellow team member, Heath Hasekura.  Kuga protected Heath by beating up the teammates who caused the trouble but took the blame for everything and was forced to quit the club.

This has affected the team, especially for teammates who didn’t know the truth but the breakup of the Honan Academy Stride club is well-known to other clubs around the area and many feel Honan Academy are unable to compete because they no longer have the same teammates for this year and have beginners.

But each character is featured to have some difficulty or mental block that prevents them from being better, but with teammate support, they manage to overcome their problems and move on.

As for the Blu-ray release, Madhouse is always known for quality and the anime production is well-done.  Colors are vibrant, characters are well-shaded and voice acting for both English and Japanese soundtracks are well-done.  Unfortunately, there are no major special features.  No audio commentary, just the opening and ending themes.  So, it’s a barebones anime Blu-ray release.

Needless to say, this is an entertaining anime series for those who love sports anime that deal with teamwork, dealing with problems among the teammates and other situations that they must take on.  Sure, it’s a bit banal but for the most part, it’s an anime series with cool characters and wonderful animation from Madhouse that makes the series worth watching.

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Hunter x Hunter vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Hunter x Hunter” is an improvement over the first series and is respectful to the original manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi but also features a more action-driven storyline with much more violence.  So, it’s not as child-friendly as the first series from 1999-2001 but this newer “Hunter x Hunter” is a series that I found entertaining and full of action!  Recommended!” a try!

Image courtesy of © POT (Yoshihiro Togashi, 1998-2011). All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Hunter x Hunter vol. 2

DURATION: Episodes 14-26 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese 2.0 LPCM, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 28, 2017


Originally created by Yoshihiro Togashi

Director: Hiroshi Koujina

Series Composition: Atsushi Maekawa, Tsutomu Kamishiro

Character Design by Takahiro Yoshimatsu

Art Director: Mio Isshiki

Executive Producer: Seiji Okuda

Producer: Akira Shinohara, Manabu Tamura, Naoki Iwasa, Tetsuto Motoyasu, Tomoko Yoshino, Toshio Nakatani

Anime Production: Madhouse


Featuring the following voice talent:

Megumi Han/Erica Mendez as Gon Freecss

Keiji Fujiwara/Matthew Mercer as LeoRio

Kanako Mitsuhashi/Cristina Vee as Killua Zaoldyeck

Miyuki Sawashiro/Erika Harlacher as Kurapica

Akio Ohtsuka/Patrick Seitz as Mizaistom Nana/Uvogin

Aya Endo as Komugi

Ayumi Fujimura as Neferpito

Chisa Yokoyama as Biscuit Krueger

Cho as Bonolenov

Daisuke Kishio/Ray Chase as Hanzo

Daisuke Namikawa/Keith Silverstein as Hisoka


In the Fourth Phase of the Hunter Exam the participants must steal ID badges from each other—and anyone without enough badges at the end of one week fails! It will take trickery, unexpected alliances, and careful negotiations for Gon and his friends to succeed. In the Final Phase, the remaining Hunter candidates are matched up for one-on-one battles—but the only way to win this fight is to lose! After the exam, Gon discovers that Killua has gone back home, so he and his friends head to the Republic of Padokea to find him.


The “Hunter x Hunter” series is one of the most popular and long-running manga series in Japan.  Written and designed by Yoshihiro Togashi (creator of “Yu Yu Hakusho’), the manga series began in 1998 and is still ongoing to this day with 33 volumes published.

As for the animated series, the first series premiered in 1999 through 2001 and lasted 62 episodes.  A 30 OVA episodes then was released from 2002-2004.  And then nearly a decade later, a 148-episode TV series which was shown on NTV which ran from 2011-2014.

And now, the recent “Hunter x Hunter” TV series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Viz Media.

This new series is a reboot of the anime series and is based on Yoshihiro Togashi’s “Hunter x Hunter” manga and this time is produced by Madhouse and is directed by Hiroshi Kojina.  The new series also features an all new voice talent (both for the Japanese and English dub).

The new series revolves around Gon Freecss, who finds out that his father who was thought to be dead, is very much alive.  Having been brought up by his aunt Mito,  Gon finds out that his father is Ging, the legendary “Hunter” and now Gon, wants to follow his father’s footsteps by passing the “Hunter Examination” and one day, to be reunited with his father.

On his path to become a hunter, he meets Kurapika (who wants to become a hunter to hunt down the Phantom Troupe, who massacred his clan) and Leorio (who wants to be a hunter for the money).

In the first volume, the three arrived at Zaban City and take part in the first three phases of the Hunter exam venue.

In the second volume (episodes 14-26), the applicants arrive at Zevil Island for the fourth phase of the exam.  Each person draws a number to find out who their target is and the goal is to steal their opponents ID tag.  Each applicant must collect six points in order to pass the fourth phase.

Gon finds out that his opponent is the murderous Hisoka and thrives on near death experiences.  Leorio finds out his target is Ponzu (who specializes in traps and poison) and Kurapika’s target is Tonpa.

As the two form an alliance, they are now stalked by Hisoka.

The second volume also features the final phase of the Hunter Exam, where winners lose and the losers advance. Will Gon, Kurapika or Leorio pass the Hunter exam?

And also is included are the beginning episodes of the Zoldyck Family Arc (starting with episode 22) and Gon and friends go to Kukuroo Mountain to visit Killua.  Meanwhile, we learn about Killua’s family and childhood.


VIDEO:

“Hunter x Hunter” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the animation from Madhouse is no doubt respectful to Yoshihiro Togashi’s manga series.

As expected with a TV series, there is a slight hint of softness but for the most part, colors are vibrant and overall animation and fighting animation is done well.  I didn’t notice any major issues with artifacts or banding.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Hunter x Hunter” is presented in LPCM Japanese and English 2.0.  Both soundtracks are done quite well and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 features the clean opening and ending songs, trailers and ending credits.

EXTRAS:

“Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 comes with three post cards.


“Hunter x Hunter” is an adventure, action-packed anime series that will attract anime fans who are willing to invest their time in another popular anime series that has lasted for over a hundred episodes.

Similar to “Naruto”, “Bleach” and “Dragon Ball Z”, “Hunter x Hunter” has been a popular manga and anime series in Japan and with the original series feeling that it was aiming for a younger demographic, this recent series has a more darker feel as the violence is more evident and people do die.

Having watched the original series, this latest version is quick to bring Gon and his friends to take the Hunter exam, while the original put a lot of character development into Gon and how Gon is different from other hunters since he was raised by a loving relative and lived in a village where there has not been much strife or conflict, so he is a bit naive about the world around him.  In fact, his motivation in becoming a hunter is so opposite of what other hunters are wanting it for.  But Gon’s pure and positive attitude seems to have an effect on the people that he meets.  In some ways, the original series reminded me of the character Naruto in that aspect.

But Gon is still an entertaining character to watch.   Gon has the ability to communicate with animals like his father and carries a fishing pole that acts like a weapon and helps him swing to different areas.  He is also learning more and more about his abilities as he continues on in his hunter training with his friends.

Kurapika is intelligent, a balanced fighter and also is a conjurer and specialist with the ability to materialize objects with his imagination.  He is a character that is on a mission to become a hunter to hunt down the Phantom Troupe, who massacred his clan.

Leorio is a man with a hot temper but has a good heart.  He seems to want to be a hunter because of money and he is a great fighter.

The second volume shows how this friendship grows among the three but also introduces Killua Zoldyck.

But the big focus with this second volume is more focus on Hisoka, the 44th applicant who has a lust for blood and kills his opponents and it led to his failure in last year’s Hunter exam.

As for the anime series, the Blu-ray release features a solid lossless stereo soundtrack and both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted.  Animation is also very well-done by Madhouse and while there is a hint of softness, the anime series is quite colorful and looks great in HD.

While special features are the usual clean opening and ending theme, trailers and credits, “Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 comes with three collectible postcards.

Overall, “Hunter x Hunter” is an improvement over the first series and is respectful to the original manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi but also features a more action-driven storyline with much more violence.  So, it’s not as child-friendly as the first series from 1999-2001 but this newer “Hunter x Hunter” is a series that I found entertaining and full of action!  Recommended!

Death Parade: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Death Parade” is an anime series that was refreshing, addictive and badass!  Recommended!anime series with a shorter duration, “Sky Wizards Academy” is worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Death Parade: The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: November 29, 2016


Originally created by Yuzuru Tachikawa

Directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa

Screenplay by Yuzuru Tachikawa

Music by Yauuki Hayashi

Character Design by Shinichi Kurita

Art Director: Satoru Hirayanagi

Anime Production by Madhouse


Featuring the following voice talent:

Asami Seto/Jamie Marchi as Black-haired Woman

Tomoaki Maeno/Alex Organ as Decim

Atsumi Tanezaki as Mayu Arita

Kouki Uchiyama/Leah Clark as Clavis

Rumi Ookubo/Jad Saxton as Nona

Ryoka Yuzuki/Morgan Garrett as Castra

Ryoko Shiraishi/Anastasia Munoz as Quin

Tesshō Genda/Jeremy Schwartz as Oculus

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Robert McCollum as Ginti


When two people die at the same time, they’re sent to a place that’s neither heaven nor hell: a lavish bar between worlds where the stakes are high and the rules are simple: if you win you live again, if you die you’re gone for good.

Decim is the bartender charged with serving the souls who enter Quindecim. He may make a mean cocktail, but his true profession is to play the role of arbiter: a judge who determines whether or not a soul is worthy of reincarnation.

To aid in his judgment, the bar’s patrons are forced to play simple games laced with sadistic twists designed to bring their true natures to light. To Decim, judgment has always been black and white — that is until he meets a mysterious young woman whose fate seems impossible to decide. His indecision shakes the very foundation of the games and raises the biggest question of all: who is fit to judge the dead?

 


From Yuzuru Tachikawa (who worked on series such as “Steins;Gate”, “Attack on Titan”, “Kill la Kill”) and Madhouse comes the anime series “Death Parade”.

Originally a short film titled “Death Billiards”, which was produced by Madhouse for the Young Animator Training Project’s Anime Mirai 2013.  The series aired in Japan between January and March 2015 and each episode was released in the United States not long after the Japan release of an episode.

The anime series is directed and written by Yuzuru Tachikawa, music composition by Yuuki Hayashi (“Gundam Build Fighters”, “Haikyu!!”, “My Hero Academia”), character design by Shinichi Kurita (“Arata-naru Sekai”, “Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV”) and art direction by Satoru Hirayanagi (“Familiar of Zero”, “Guin Saga”, “Shining Hearts”).

And now the anime series will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

The series revolves around two people (different individuals for each episode) who are taken to a building managed by Nona.  And on the 15th floor, they are led into a Quindecim bar by Castra to participate in game. What these individuals are unaware of is that these games are death games.

Greetings them is a bartender named Decim, who has no human emotions.  Who happens to also be an arbiter, the person who must judge each individual and explain to the individuals of the games they are taking part in.  Assisting Decim is a mysterious black-haired woman named Chiyuki who has no memory of her past life or her real-name.

But there is also another bar on the 20th floor known as Viginti, ran by Ginti, like Decim who also must lead individuals to taking part in the death games.

The two people that come in to the bar are unaware they are dead and the purpose of taking part in the game, is to find out who gets reincarnated and who must go to the void.

And in the end of the game, they will be judged.


VIDEO:

“Death Parade” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Animation is from Mad House who did a fantastic job with this series when it comes to detail of the bar, character designs, lighting and overall animation.  Picture quality does have a hint of softness, as one would expect from an anime TV series.  But pallet is colorful and the series looks great on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Death Parade” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music. The English dub has the edge with its 5.1 surround soundtrack but both voice acting for Japanese and English are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Death Parade: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 3 Commentary – Featuring ADR director Chris George, Bryn Apprill (voice of Mai Takada) and Micah Solusod (voice of Shigeru Miura.
  • Episode 12 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Zach Bolton (voice of Clavis), Jamie Marchi (voice of Black-Haired Woman), Jad Saxton (voice of Nona) and Alex Organ (voice of Decim).
  • OVA: Death Billiards – Featuring a special episode with Decim and Black-Haired Woman encountering two people who must compete at billiards.
  • Playing with House Money – (6:15) Jad Saxton (voice of Nona), Robert McCollum (voice of Ginti) and Jamie Marchi (voice of Black-Haired Woman) meet up in a bar for a game of billiards.
  • Textless Opening and Five Closing Songs
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Death Parade: The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those who have been craving for anime with original stories, “Death Parade” from Madhouse gives anime fans a series built on a fascinating storyline, some that are surprising, others quite tragic and heartbreaking but also showcasing mysterious characters.

The series pretty much is the judgment of individuals of who will be reincarnated and who must spend eternity in the void.

As two people are escorted into a bar to participate in games, they are unaware that these are death games and by playing, it slowly reveals the history and what led to the demise of an individual.

From its mysterious no-emotion bartender named Decim and a human, who is not an arbiter but is working closely for Decim for some unexplained reason.  What is the story about her?

But the stories revolve around two people who take part in death games.

For example, the first episode features Takashi and Machiko, a loving couple who are unaware they are dead.  But the more they play the game of darts, they start to realize that their relationship is troubled.

Takashi remembers when Machiko said she was pregnant but he feared that the pregnancy was due to another man.  Machiko claims that it’s Takashi’s baby but the more viewers start to sympathize with Machiko, the more the game is played, the more is revealed about her dark side or does he have a dark side?

Another two that plays the game is Misaki Tachibana, a hostess of a reality TV show who has a hot temper.  She had a baby by an abusive man and had to raise five children through multiple failed relationships.

Yousuke’s father remarried with Misaki and refused to accept her and avoided her no matter how much Misaki tried to give him love.  But what led to their demise?  And who will be reincarnated and who will go to the void?

These are just a few examples as you will see couples take part in “Death Billiards”, “Death Bowling” and more.

And of course, the series comes to a resolution with its mysterious black-haired woman, Chiyuki.

A satisfying, addictive anime series, it helps that it’s a shorter series that is only 12-episodes long and not drawn out with filler storylines that mean nothing.  In “Death Parade”, each storyline contributes to changes with other characters, especially Chiyuki and through these experiences, the story concludes with a satisfying storyline.  I really enjoyed this series!

And as one can expect from Madhouse, you get wonderful animation, background and foreground artwork and while colorful, it does have a slight softness but that is expected from anime television series.  You also get two audio commentary and a featurette with three of the voice English dub voice talents.  Plus a bonus “Death Billiards” episode.

Overall, “Death Parade” is an anime series that was refreshing, addictive and badass!  Recommended!

The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

irregular-3

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” Blu-ray release features an action-packed conclusion to the first season and the mystery revolving around Tatsuya and Miyuki are finally revealed. Action-packed and full of excitement, “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Tsutomu Sato. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance

DURATION: Episodes 19-26 (200 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and up

Release Date: December 8, 2015


Original Creator: Tsutomu Satou

Original Character Design by Kana Ishida

Director: Manabu Ono

Script by Yukie Sugawara

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design: Kana Ishida

Art Director: Rie Ota

Director of Photography: Yuuki Kawashita

Anime Production: MADHOUSE


Featuring the following voice talent:

Saori Hayami as Miyuki Shiba

Yūichi Nakamura as Tatsuya Shiba

Atsushi Tamaru as Mikihiko Yoshida

Ayumu Murase as Shinkurō Kichōji

Chiwa Saito as Maya Yotsuba

Haruka Tomatsu as Sayaka Mibu

Junichi Suwabe as Katsuto Jūmonji

Kana Hanazawa as Mayumi Saegusa

Koji Yusa as Zhou Gongjin

Mai Nakahara as Suzune Ichihara

Marina Inoue as Mari Watanabe

Ryohei Kimura as Hanzō Hattorigyōbushōjō

Saki Ogasawara as Azusa Nakajō

Sakura Tange as Haruka Ono

Saori Ōnishi as Kanon Chiyoda

Satomi Satou as Mizuki Shibata

Sōma Saitō as Kei Isori

Sora Amamiya as Honoka Mitsui

Takuma Terashima as Leonhart Saijo

Tomokazu Sugita as Takeaki Kirihara

Toru Ohkawa as Harunobu Kazama

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Masaki Ichijō

Yuiko Tatsumi as Shizuku Kitayama

Yumi Uchiyama as Erika Chiba


The season turns from summer to fall. This is also the time for students to prepare for the “National High School Magic Thesis Competition,” a.k.a. “Thesis Competition.” At this nationwide competition, students representing each of the nine magic schools in the country present their research on topics ranging from magic theory to magic engineering. If the Nine Schools Competition was meant to assess the students’ “physical” capabilities, the Thesis Competition evaluates their “mental” proficiency.

Even though he is a Course 2 student and only a first-year, Tatsuya is appointed to represent his school along with his group members to present their thesis on “the technical feasibility of a Gravity Control-type Thermonuclear Fusion Reactor.” At the same time, Tatsuya is approached by his stepmother, Sayuri Shiba, to help analyze a “Relic.”

Meanwhile, in Yokohama, where this year’s Thesis Competition was scheduled to take place, local authorities investigate a series of unlawful entries into the country and work to keep the situation under control. This, however, is only the beginning of a greater conflict that would soon involve the students at the Thesis Competition…


With “Yokahama Disturbance” (episodes 19-26) kicking off a new story arc for Tatsuya and Miyuki, this time the schools will compete in a “Magical Thesis Competition”.

But their step mother enlists Tatsuya for his help in finding a mysterious and elusive relic that can change the history of magic, but another group is trying to steal it.

Find out what happens in the latest arc for “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

What is “The irregular at magic high school” about?

In 2011, Tsutomu Sato and illustrator Kana Ishida created the Japanese light novel “Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” (The irregular at magic high school).

Since then, 16 novels have been published via ASCII Media Works including five manga adaptations by Ascii Media Works and Square Enix. Including two video games and a 26-episode animated series in 2014.

The animated series was released in the United States courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first Blu-ray volume featuring the first seven episodes.

“The irregular at magic high school” is set during a time where magic has been utilized as technology for nearly a century. Those who are gifted with magical abilities can cast spells using a CAD (Casting Assistant Device) and is infused with psions, a substanceless particle and psychic phenomenon.

In the year 2095, Tatsuya Shiba and his younger sister Miyuki Shiba are enrolled at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School, where students are ranked according to their test scores. Those who rank higher in practical magic ability are put on priority and are enrolled in course 1, while those with lower practical magic test scores are enrolled in course 2.

While Tatsuya scored the highest in written/theoretical portion of the exam, he scored poorly in practical magic, so he is in course 2, while Miyuki is in course 1 because of her high scores, and also selected to be the first year representative because of her high ranking score on the exam.

Miyuki is overprotective of her brother and has a little crush on him as well. So, it hurts her when she sees him being picked on because he is in Course 2 (the Course 1 students look at Course 2 students as “weeds”).

But because Tatsuya undergoes shinobi training, his fighting skills are top-notched.

At school, the two befriend Course 2’s Erika Chiba (the youngest daughter of the Chiba Family, known for their swordsmanship), Course 2’s Mizuki Shibata (has the ability to see Spirit Particle emissions) and Course 2’s Leonhard Saijo (his grandfather was a German Fortress Series magician).

One day, Tatsuya and his friends are bullied by Course 1 students and despite Miyuki being angered by her classmates, Tatsuya tries to calm her down and take in the bullying. But when one challenges Tatsuya to a fight, his skills catch the attention of the Student Council and Public Morals Committee because of his ability to read activation sequences in real time.

Tatsuya becomes the first Course 2 student to be nominated in the Public Morals committee (also to help diffuse the prejudice against Course 2 students).

As a representative of the Public Morals Committee at the high school, Tatsuya must now enforce the law in school, meanwhile having to deal with Course 1 students prejudice towards Course 2 students.

With the third arc titled “Yokohama Disturbance”, a few of the students of Private Magic University Affiliated High School will be taking part in another important event known as the “Magic Thesis Competition” and the students must produce an applicable material before their deadline.

But as Tatsuya is enlisted by his step mother to replicate a relic that can change magic history, other adversaries are trying to steal it.


VIDEO:

“The irregular at magic high school” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Madhouse has done a wonderful job with this animated TV series. Where a lot of TV series don’t get the special treatment of excessive background art or attention to detail (due to deadlines and budget), it’s evident that a lot of time is put into the creation of “The irregular at magic high school”.

Characters are well-shaded with attention to detail on the characters faces, clothing but the background art is heavily detailed.

The color palette is vibrant, I saw no major banding issues or artifacts. If anything, “The irregular at magic high school” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

While I wish that the lossless audio for “The irregular at magic high school”, like most TV series released in Japan, they are presented in stereo and the same can be said for the lossless audio on the Blu-ray release. The lossless audio is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo but dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels. Although for those with receivers that can pump out audio on all channels, then you should be fine with that if you want something a bit more immersive. It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs on this Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Ending 2, Ver. 1 and Ver. 2
  • Get to Know Magic Studies! #06-#07 – Featuring SD versions of the characters in three minute segments (typically shown after an episode in Japan).

EXTRAS:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” comes with a Blu-ray slipcase, three collectible pin-ups illustrated by Kana Ishida (character designer) and a special 20-page booklet with episode synopsis and more.


In my previous reviews of “The irregular at magic high school”, I feel that I have complimented the series when it comes to visual design and storytelling.

From the anime series beginnings of featuring Tatsuya as a mystery underdog in a high school that looked down upon him, because he was not in the top class, part of the enjoyment was seeing him grow as a student but also proving others wrong with his mysterious abilities.

Volume 3 of “The irregular at magic high school” finally features the truth about Tatsuya Shiba and also the importance of Miyuki Shiba during a tough time as the students are attacked by armed assailants.

While previous arcs have been action-packed, “Yokohama Disturbance” becomes more serious and deadly and even various characters get injured severely at some point.

For those who love the action of the series, you won’t be disappointed by these final episodes of the series.  Featuring many of the characters working together to defeat their adversaries, it’s no doubt an action-packed arc.

Meanwhile, for those who enjoyed the more school-driven, underdog Tatsuya storyline, the series has gone beyond that and has identified Tatsuya as anything but an underdog.

And you can see a bit of Tatsuya’s power unleashed in the final episodes.

But with how the series ends overall, the question is how will the series continue and will it continue to follow the light novel series.  Time will tell.

As for the Blu-ray release, I love the fact that MADHOUSE went all out in giving a vibrant, colorful presentation for this TV series. Most TV series don’t receive this much love, but the studio went all out in making sure the background art, structures and character design were done very well.

Lossless audio is Linear PCM Stereo and the voice acting is fantastic. It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release does not include English dubs.

As usual with Aniplex product Blu-ray set releases, you can expect swag and in this case, you get a special booklet and collectible pin-up cards.

Overall, “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 3: Yokohama Disturbance” Blu-ray release features an action-packed conclusion to the first season and the mystery revolving around Tatsuya and Miyuki are finally revealed.

Action-packed and full of excitement, “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

irregular-2a

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” Blu-ray release features a storyline that gets better and better. And with this latest arc, we get to see powerful individuals from other schools take on Tatsuya, Miyuki and others from First High School, but also Tatsuya having to prepare for an unknown threat against his teammates, but most importantly, since his sister is the primary target. Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome! “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Tsutomu Sato. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition

DURATION: Episodes 8-18 (275 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and up

Release Date: September, 2015


Original Creator: Tsutomu Satou

Original Character Design by Kana Ishida

Director: Manabu Ono

Script by Yukie Sugawara

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design: Kana Ishida

Art Director: Rie Ota

Director of Photography: Yuuki Kawashita

Anime Production: MADHOUSE


Featuring the following voice talent:

Saori Hayami as Miyuki Shiba

Yūichi Nakamura as Tatsuya Shiba

Atsushi Tamaru as Mikihiko Yoshida

Ayumu Murase as Shinkurō Kichōji

Chiwa Saito as Maya Yotsuba

Haruka Tomatsu as Sayaka Mibu

Junichi Suwabe as Katsuto Jūmonji

Kana Hanazawa as Mayumi Saegusa

Koji Yusa as Zhou Gongjin

Mai Nakahara as Suzune Ichihara

Marina Inoue as Mari Watanabe

Ryohei Kimura as Hanzō Hattorigyōbushōjō

Saki Ogasawara as Azusa Nakajō

Sakura Tange as Haruka Ono

Saori Ōnishi as Kanon Chiyoda

Satomi Satou as Mizuki Shibata

Sōma Saitō as Kei Isori

Sora Amamiya as Honoka Mitsui

Takuma Terashima as Leonhart Saijo

Tomokazu Sugita as Takeaki Kirihara

Toru Ohkawa as Harunobu Kazama

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Masaki Ichijō

Yuiko Tatsumi as Shizuku Kitayama

Yumi Uchiyama as Erika Chiba


The seasons have turned to summer and the story enters the next chapter. The National Magic High School Goodwill Magic Game Convention (a.k.a. the “Nine Schools Competition”) is just around the corner. The young elites of all the nation’s magic high schools are ready to demonstrate their skills in the name of their pride.

Miyuki, a Course 1 student, is chosen as one of the representative athletes to compete for First High School’s prestige. Tatsuya, being a Course 2 student, knew better than anyone else that he would have no involvement in such an esteemed event as the “Nine Schools Competition.” However, to everyone’s surprise, he is actually nominated to represent First High School as the team’s engineer. It is unprecedented for a Course 2 student to compete in the tournament, and naturally the whole school is thrown into an uproar.

Students of First High School are all ready for their third consecutive victory, while the other magic high schools are not about to easily hand it over. With the students’ various expectations, the battle between the young magicians will soon begin…


The next arc known as “Nine Schools Competition” has begun for the hit anime series “The irregular at magic high school” and this time, First High School will now pit it’s best team members to participate in the inter-school sporting event.

With Tatsuya being recognized for his skills at special magic tuning, he is voted into the Engineering squad and also creates a flying CAD device.

But as the team is preparing for the “Nine Schools Competition”, someone is trying to kill the team.

Meanwhile, can the First High students defeat the Third High School team led by the talented first class magician Masaki Ichijo a.k.a. “The Crimson Prince” and Shinkuro Kichijoji “Cardinal George”?

Find out in the latest arc for “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine School Competition” available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex.

What is “The irregular at magic high school” about?

In 2011, Tsutomu Sato and illustrator Kana Ishida created the Japanese light novel “Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” (The irregular at magic high school).

Since then, 16 novels have been published via ASCII Media Works including five manga adaptations by Ascii Media Works and Square Enix. Including two video games and a 26-episode animated series in 2014.

The animated series was released in the United States courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first Blu-ray volume featuring the first seven episodes.

“The irregular at magic high school” is set during a time where magic has been utilized as technology for nearly a century. Those who are gifted with magical abilities can cast spells using a CAD (Casting Assistant Device) and is infused with psions, a substanceless particle and psychic phenomenon.

In the year 2095, Tatsuya Shiba and his younger sister Miyuki Shiba are enrolled at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School, where students are ranked according to their test scores. Those who rank higher in practical magic ability are put on priority and are enrolled in course 1, while those with lower practical magic test scores are enrolled in course 2.

While Tatsuya scored the highest in written/theoretical portion of the exam, he scored poorly in practical magic, so he is in course 2, while Miyuki is in course 1 because of her high scores, and also selected to be the first year representative because of her high ranking score on the exam.

Miyuki is overprotective of her brother and has a little crush on him as well. So, it hurts her when she sees him being picked on because he is in Course 2 (the Course 1 students look at Course 2 students as “weeds”).

But because Tatsuya undergoes shinobi training, his fighting skills are top-notched.

At school, the two befriend Course 2’s Erika Chiba (the youngest daughter of the Chiba Family, known for their swordsmanship), Course 2’s Mizuki Shibata (has the ability to see Spirit Particle emissions) and Course 2’s Leonhard Saijo (his grandfather was a German Fortress Series magician).

One day, Tatsuya and his friends are bullied by Course 1 students and despite Miyuki being angered by her classmates, Tatsuya tries to calm her down and take in the bullying. But when one challenges Tatsuya to a fight, his skills catch the attention of the Student Council and Public Morals Committee because of his ability to read activation sequences in real time.

Tatsuya becomes the first Course 2 student to be nominated in the Public Morals committee (also to help diffuse the prejudice against Course 2 students).

As a representative of the Public Morals Committee at the high school, Tatsuya must now enforce the law in school, meanwhile having to deal with Course 1 students prejudice towards Course 2 students.

As the first arc was featured in the first volume, the second volume features the “Nine Schools Competition” arc and both Tatsuya and his sister Miyuki will be among the few competitors to face off against other top tier teams from different high schools.

But as the two prepare for the challenges await them, outside of the school is an organization that is intent of destroying First High School’s chance of winning, but most importantly, targeting Miyuki for death.


VIDEO:

“The irregular at magic high school” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Madhouse has done a wonderful job with this animated TV series. Where a lot of TV series don’t get the special treatment of excessive background art or attention to detail (due to deadlines and budget), it’s evident that a lot of time is put into the creation of “The irregular at magic high school”.

Characters are well-shaded with attention to detail on the characters faces, clothing but the background art is heavily detailed.

The color palette is vibrant, I saw no major banding issues or artifacts. If anything, “The irregular at magic high school” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

While I wish that the lossless audio for “The irregular at magic high school”, like most TV series released in Japan, they are presented in stereo and the same can be said for the lossless audio on the Blu-ray release. The lossless audio is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo but dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels. Although for those with receivers that can pump out audio on all channels, then you should be fine with that if you want something a bit more immersive. It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs on this Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” comes with the Get to Know Magic Studies! Shorts #4-5, Textless Opening 2, Textless Ending 1.

EXTRAS:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” comes with a Blu-ray slipcase, four collectible pin-ups illustrated by Kana Ishida (character designer) and a special 24-page booklet with episode synopsis and more.


irregular-2b

Possibly one of the better anime series to be released on Blu-ray in 2015 for North America, for anime fans clamoring for something original, exciting and entertaining, will no doubt enjoy MADHOUSE’s “The irregular at magic high school”.

Where the series could have gone the banal route of students going against the government storyline, what we have is a school in which magic users are divided into different courses and leads to a somewhat difficult environment as the Course 1 students look at themselves as elite and the Course 2 students are nothing but “weeds”.

That is until Tatsuya Shiba enrolls with his sister to the Magic University Affiliated High School and with his calm demeanor, you realized that despite failing his practical magic exam, he’s not a person to look down upon because chances are, he can easily take on and defeat a Course 1 student.

And now with this latest “Nine Schools Competition” arc, a lot of things have changed for Tatsuya.  Despite being popular with a few of his female friends that are starting to take a liking towards him (and he still remains emotionless and naive), but we get to learn more about Tatsuya and what he does behind-the-scenes and the people he interacts with, especially his relationship with his father.

But we also get to see how his fellow students starting to suspect him of being more than a Course 2 student.

But with this latest arc, the action is elevated as the schools must compete in the “Nine Schools Competition”.  Competition is risky and challenging and for the guys, they know that they must face their most difficult opponent yet, the Third High School team led by the talented first class magician Masaki Ichijo a.k.a. “The Crimson Prince” and Shinkuro Kichijoji “Cardinal George”.

Ichijo is the eldest son and the future head of the Ichijo family, one of the Ten Master Clans and also has a crush on Miyuki, so his goal to defeat Tatsuya is even greater.

But as these two pose a great challenge to First High School, the true threat is unknown as someone is trying to kill the First High School Team, primarily Miyuki for some reason.  And Tatsuya, who has his eyes on the competition, also has his eyes out for any potential threat on his sister’s life and his teammates.

As for the Blu-ray release, I love the fact that MADHOUSE went all out in giving a vibrant, colorful presentation for this TV series. Most TV series don’t receive this much love, but the studio went all out in making sure the background art, structures and character design were done very well. Lossless audio is Linear PCM Stereo and the voice acting is fantastic. It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release does not include English dubs.

And as usual with Aniplex product Blu-ray set releases, you can expect swag and in this case, you get a special booklet and collectible pin-up cards.

Overall, “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 2: Nine Schools Competition” Blu-ray release features a storyline that gets better and better.  And with this latest arc, we get to see powerful individuals from other schools take on Tatsuya, Miyuki and others from First High School, but also Tatsuya having to prepare for an unknown threat against his teammates, but most importantly, since his sister is the primary target.

Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome! “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

irregular-a

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” Blu-ray release is one of the awesome anime on Blu-ray releases I have seen in 2015. Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome! “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Tsutomu Sato. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment

DURATION: Episodes 1-7 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and up

Release Date: June 30, 2015


Original Creator: Tsutomu Satou

Original Character Design by Kana Ishida

Director: Manabu Ono

Script by Yukie Sugawara

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design: Kana Ishida

Art Director: Rie Ota

Director of Photography: Yuuki Kawashita

Anime Production: MADHOUSE


Featuring the following voice talent:

Saori Hayami as Miyuki Shiba

Yūichi Nakamura as Tatsuya Shiba

Atsushi Tamaru as Mikihiko Yoshida

Ayumu Murase as Shinkurō Kichōji

Chiwa Saito as Maya Yotsuba

Haruka Tomatsu as Sayaka Mibu

Junichi Suwabe as Katsuto Jūmonji

Kana Hanazawa as Mayumi Saegusa

Koji Yusa as Zhou Gongjin

Mai Nakahara as Suzune Ichihara

Marina Inoue as Mari Watanabe

Ryohei Kimura as Hanzō Hattorigyōbushōjō

Saki Ogasawara as Azusa Nakajō
Sakura Tange as Haruka Ono

Saori Ōnishi as Kanon Chiyoda

Satomi Satou as Mizuki Shibata

Sōma Saitō as Kei Isori

Sora Amamiya as Honoka Mitsui

Takuma Terashima as Leonhart Saijo

Tomokazu Sugita as Takeaki Kirihara

Toru Ohkawa as Harunobu Kazama

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Masaki Ichijō

Yuiko Tatsumi as Shizuku Kitayama

Yumi Uchiyama as Erika Chiba

 


Magic – a century has passed since this concept has been recognized as a formal technology instead of the product of the occult or mere folklore. The season is spring and it is time for a brand new school year.

At the National Magic University First Affiliate High School, A.K.A Magic High School, students are divided into two distinct groups according to their academic performances. The “Blooms,” who demonstrate the highest grades, are enrolled in the “First Course,” and the “Weeds,” who have a poor academic record, are enrolled in the “Second Course.”

This spring, a very peculiar brother and sister enroll as new students. The brother is an underachiever with some deficiencies and enrolls as a “Weed,” while his younger sister is an honor student, who enrolls as a “Bloom.” The brother with a somewhat philosophical disposition and the younger sister who holds feelings a little stronger than sibling love for him… Ever since these two entered through the gates of this prestigious school, the calm campus began to change…


In 2011, Tsutomu Sato and illustrator Kana Ishida created the Japanese light novel “Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” (The irregular at magic high school).

Since then, 16 novels have been published via ASCII Media Works including five manga adaptations by Ascii Media Works and Square Enix.  Including two video games and a 26-episode animated series in 2014.

The animated series was released in the United States courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first Blu-ray volume featuring the first seven episodes.

“The irregular at magic high school” is set during a time where magic has been utilized as technology for nearly a century.  Those who are gifted with magical abilities can cast spells using a CAD (Casting Assistant Device) and is infused with psions, a substanceless particle and psychic phenomenon.

In the year 2095, Tatsuya Shiba and his younger sister Miyuki Shiba are enrolled at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School, where students are ranked according to their test scores.  Those who rank higher in practical magic ability are put on priority and are enrolled in course 1, while those with lower practical magic test scores are enrolled in course 2.

While Tatsuya scored the highest in written/theoretical portion of the exam, he scored poorly in practical magic, so he is in course 2, while Miyuki is in course 1 because of her high scores, and also selected to be the first year representative because of her high ranking score on the exam.

Miyuki is overprotective of her brother and has a little crush on him as well.  So, it hurts her when she sees him being picked on because he is in Course 2 (the Course 1 students look at Course 2 students as “weeds”).

But because Tatsuya undergoes shinobi training, his fighting skills are top-notched.

At school, the two befriend Course 2’s Erika Chiba (the youngest daughter of the Chiba Family, known for their swordsmanship), Course 2’s Mizuki Shibata (has the ability to see Spirit Particle emissions) and Course 2’s Leonhard Saijo (his grandfather was a German Fortress Series magician).

One day, Tatsuya and his friends are bullied by Course 1 students and despite Miyuki being angered by her classmates, Tatsuya tries to calm her down and take in the bullying.  But when one challenges Tatsuya to a fight, his skills catch the attention of the Student Council and Public Morals Committee because of his ability to read activation sequences in real time.

Tatsuya becomes the first Course 2 student to be nominated in the Public Morals committee (also to help diffuse the prejudice against Course 2 students).

As a representative of the Public Morals Committee at the high school, Tatsuya must now enforce the law in school but also diffuse a terrorist attack on the school.


VIDEO:

“The irregular at magic high school” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Madhouse has done a wonderful job with this animated TV series.  Where a lot of TV series don’t get the special treatment of excessive background art or attention to detail (due to deadlines and budget), it’s evident that a lot of time is put into the creation of “The irregular at magic high school”.

Characters are well-shaded with attention to detail on the characters faces, clothing but the background art is heavily detailed.

The color palette is vibrant, I saw no major banding issues or artifacts.  If anything, “The irregular at magic high school” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

While I wish that the lossless audio for “The irregular at magic high school”, like most TV series released in Japan, they are presented in stereo and the same can be said for the lossless audio on the Blu-ray release.  The lossless audio is presented in Japanese linear PCM stereo but dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels.  Although for those with receivers that can pump out audio on all channels, then you should be fine with that if you want something a bit more immersive.  It’s important to emphasize that there are no English dubs on this Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” comes with a textless opening, three three-minute “Get to Know Magic Studies!” featuring the characters in SD format.  Also, included are the Japanese trailers and commercials.

EXTRAS:

“The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” comes with a Blu-ray slipcase and three collectable pin-ups illustrated by Kana Ishida (character designer) and a 24-page special booklet with episode synopsis and Q&A with creator Tsutomu Sato answers technical questions from fans of the series.


irregular-b

Possibly one of the better anime series to be released on Blu-ray in 2015 for North America, for anime fans clamoring for something original, exciting and entertaining, will no doubt enjoy MADHOUSE’s “The irregular at magic high school”.

Where the series could have gone the banal route of students going against the government storyline, what we have is a school in which magic users are divided into different courses and leads to a somewhat difficult environment as the Course 1 students look at themselves as elite and the Course 2 students are nothing but “weeds”.

That is until Tatsuya Shiba enrolls with his sister to the Magic University Affiliated High School and with his calm demeanor, you realized that despite failing his practical magic exam, he’s not a person to look down upon because chances are, he can easily take on and defeat a Course 1 student.

While the first volume establishes the characters, Tatsuya’s powers (as well as other powers for the supporting cast members), we are shown how the divide between Course 1 and Course 2 students have escalated.  But most importantly, there is something about the protagonist, Tatsuya Shiba that no one knows about.

So, there is an interesting build up in the storyline as each episode gets better and better and I was absolutely captivated with this series and really felt it was one of the best anime series I have seen released on Blu-ray in 2015.

As for the Blu-ray release, I love the fact that MADHOUSE went all out in giving a vibrant, colorful presentation for this TV series.  Most TV series don’t receive this much love, but the studio went all out in making sure the background art, structures and character design were done very well.  Lossless audio is Linear PCM Stereo and the voice acting is fantastic.  It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release does not include English dubs.

And as usual with Aniplex product Blu-ray set releases, you can expect swag and in this case, you get a special booklet and collectable pin-up cards.

Overall, “The irregular at magic high school – Vol. 1 enrollment” Blu-ray release is one of the awesome anime on Blu-ray releases I have seen in 2015.

Captivating, exciting and all-out awesome!  “The irregular at magic high school” is recommended!

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

avengersconfidential

“Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher” was  another exciting, action-packed animated film showcasing Marvel’s well-known anti-hero, the Punisher and spy, the Black Widow.  Highly recommmended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 83 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio), English/Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Sequences of Action Violence)

Release Date: March 25, 2014

Directed by Kenichi Shimizu

Chief Director: Makoto Fuchigami

Episode Director: Toru Ishida, Yosuke Hatta

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuro Mornuki

Storyboard: Kenichi Shimizu, Makoto Fuchigami, Hitoshi Haga

Concept Design: Yo Moriyama

Story by Marjorie Lu

Art Director: Kazuyuki Hashimoto

Mechanic Design: Noriyuki Jinguiji, Hitoshi Haga

Produced by Madhouse Studios

Featuring the voices of:

Jennifer Carpenter as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow

Brian Bloom as Frank Castle/Punisher

John Eric Bentley as Nick Fury

Grant George as Elihas Starr

Kyle Hebert as Caine

Kari Wahlgren as Maria Hill

Eric Bauza as Amadeus Cho

JB Blanc as Orion

Fred Tatasciore as The Hulk/Ren

Matthew Mercer as Tony Stark/Iron Man

After interfering with a top secret mission, The Punisher is taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Avenger, Black Widow. At the orders of Director Nick Fury, Punisher and Black Widow are sent on a mission to stop Leviathan, a global terrorist organization, that plans to sell stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. technology to the highest bidder. Now, the vigilante and spy must work together to prevent this technology from falling into the wrong hands. The fate of the world, and of the Avengers, hangs in the balance.

In the latest anime collaboration between Marvel and Japanese animation studio Madhouse comes “Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher”, an animated film on Blu-ray+DVD.

Featuring Marvel’s anti-hero Frank “The Punisher” Castle continuing on his vigilante ways of killing of low-level thugs, he pursues a crimina named Kanel that catches the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. director, Nick Fury.

With Natasha “Black Widow” Romanov sent to prevent The Punisher from killing off the criminal, as S.H.I.E.L.D. tries needs Kane alive to find out who the weapon supplier is, the Punisher is more interested in killing him.

After a brief battle, it is learned that a terrorist organization known as Leviathan has taken control of S.H.I.E.L.D’s top secret weaponry and can supply them to terrorists.

So, S.H.I.E.L.D. needs Kane to get to the suppliers before they release the weaponry to terrorists and criminal organizations and needs the help of The Punisher.

Fury believes the Punisher was told the location of the weaponry by Kane and will release The Punisher from S.H.I.E.L.D. custody if the Punisher gives him the location of the weapons.

The Punisher agrees if S.H.I.E.L.D. provides him weapns and he will go to the location alone.  Not trusting The Punisher, Fury agrees to send the Punisher to the location with one condition, he must team up with the Black Widow.

But as the two team up on the mission, what is the true reason that these two are being put together on a mission.

VIDEO:

“Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  With the anime series being produced by Studio Madhouse of Japan, one can expect gorgeous animation.  And personally, I love the character designs, as well as the mechanical designs featured in the series.

Vehicles and surroudings are well-detailed.  Character designs feature awesome shading, colors are vibrant when needed and I did not notice any significant artifacts or any negative issues.  There is slight banding that I noticed in a few scenes but the film looks fantastic on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher” is presented in English and Japanese  5.1 DTS-HD MA. Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and audio through the center and front channels, while surround channels are well-utilized during the action sequences, air vehicle flyby’s or when a few Avengers make their appearance.  Also, solid use of LFE during exposions or it’s thumping electronic music.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher” comes with the following special features:

  • Conceptual Art Gallery – Featuring the conceptual art for “Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher”.  Artwork can be selected using your remote (or keyboard).
  • The Vigilante vs. The Spy – (9:11) A featurette about bringing together the Punisher and Black Widow together and how both come from dark paths but operate with different methods.  Also, details about both characters.
  • Espionage and Punishment – (10:16) A featurette about bringing The Punisher and the Black Widow to an anime setting.  And the similarities and difference between the two characters.

EXTRAS:

“Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher” comes with a slipcover. Along with the Blu-ray release, a DVD and UltraViolet digital copy code is also included.

As a guy who grew up reading Marvel Comic books and had a large collection growing up, “Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher” is a fascinating collaboration between two of Marvel’s well-known anti-heroes.

While the Black Widow has been popularized thanks to “The Avengers” live-action film, for those who grew up reading the comic books know that these two individuals were among the Marvel anti-heroes.

The Black Widow, often seen in the older issues of “Daredevl” and the character of The Punisher featured in the pages of “Spider-Man” were characters that teetered among their alliances with well-known superheroes or often seen battling them.

The Punisher….Frank Castle is a man who taken an oath to rid of criminals in his area after the death of his wife and child, while  The Black Widow, Natasha Romanov was a Russian spy who was brainwashed and has ended up assisting various superheroes and eventually becoming a member of The Avengers.

These two Marvel characters make an interesting collaboration as both are excellent fighters and also knowledgeable of weapons.  And in “Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher”, both have their fair share of scenes with the two taking on each other.  But eventually having to team up in order to stop a criminal organization who are using techniques that can possibly lead to the creatin of an army utilizing stolent S.H.I.E.L.D. weaponry.

Without spoiling the storyline, I can say the film is action-packed and even features members of the Avengers, which was great to see.

But part of the enjoyment was seeing a collabortion between Marvel and studio Madhouse, as the world reknown Japanese production studio brought awesome character designs, mechanical design but also detailed backgounds to this film.

I was quite impressed by the overall look of “Avengers Confidential: Black Widown/Punisher” but also its vibrant colors, it’s multitiude of action scenes and solid storyline.  Picture quality on Blu-ray is fantastic, while there is also a good amount of surround sound use as well.  It’s an active lossless soundtrack and I was quite pleased with the visuals and audio.

Overall, “Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher” was  another exciting, action-packed animated film showcasing Marvel’s well-known anti-hero, the Punisher and spy, the Black Widow.

Highly recommmended!

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

July 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Gungrave” is an anime series that features awesome mafia-style violence, total carnage and violence galore!  If you love this series (and enjoyed the original PlayStation 2 video games) or wanting more classic anime on Blu, the Blu-ray release for “Gungrave: The Complete Series” is the definitive version to own!   

Image courtesy of © 2011 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Gungrave: The Complete Series

DURATION: 26 Episodes (650 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: 16 and Up

Release Date: July 19, 2011

Originally created by Yasuhiro Nightow

Directed by Toshiyuki Tsuru

Series Composition and Script by Yousuke Kuroda

Storyboard by Junichi Takaoka, Mamoru Matsuo, Tetsuro Araki, Toshiyuki Tsuru, Yuzo Sato

Music by Tsuneo Imahori

Character Designs by Masanori Shino

Art Director by Hideyuki Ueno, Tomoyuki Shimizu

Mechanical Design by Masahiro Kimura

Sound Director: Yasunori Honda

Director of Photography: Hisao Shirai

Anime Production: Madhouse

Produced by Project Gungrave

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kenji Hamada and Tsutomu Isobe/Tony Oliver/Abe Lasser as Harry MacDowell

Tomokazu Seki/Ron Allen as Brandon Heat/Beyond the Grave

Iemasa Kayumi/Michael McConnohie as Big Daddy

Kikuko Inoue/Michelle Ruff as Maria Asagi

Kumi Sakuma/Kay Jensen as Mika Asagi

Motomu Kiyokawa/William Frederick as Dr. Tokioka “Dr. T”

Fumihiko Tachiki/Lex Lang as Bunji Kugashira

For Brandon Heat, death doesn’t matter. Driven by his need for revenge, he returns from beyond the grave to cripple Milleneon, the huge mafia organization which uses undead monsters as its enforcers. His ultimate goal is to destroy Harry MacDowel, the leader of Milleneon and, at one time, Brandon’s best friend…

In 2002, PlayStation 2 video gamers were treated with a third-person shooter titled “Gungrave”  created by Yasuhiro Nightow (creator of the manga and anime series “Trigun”).    The video game would feature anime style cut scenes but with an intriguing story about a man from the dead who has come back to exact revenge against his former mafia organization and most of all, to get back at his former best friend, who has taken control of the organization known as Millennion.

But as enjoyable as those cut scenes were, many have wondered if there would be a “Gungrave” anime series and sure enough, the following year, MADHOUSE Studios (“Trigun”, “Ninja Scroll”, “Vampire Hunter D”, “Monster”, etc.) created a 26-episode anime series.  And with the success and interest in the series, a second PS2 video game titled “Gungrave: Overdose” was released.

The series would be directed by Toshiyuki Tsuru (“who has worked on “Cowboy Bebop”, “Naruto”, “Great Teacher Onizuka” and “Vision of Escaflowne”), written by Yousuke Kuroda (“Infinite Ryvius”, “Mobile Suit Gundam 00″, “Tenchi Muyou! GXP”, “Trigun”, etc.) and feature  character designs by Masanori Shino (who has worked on anime series such as “Inuyasha”, “Mobile Suit Gundam F91″, “Black Lagoon” and “Banner of the Stars”) and mechanical designs by Masahiro Kimura (“Black Lagoon).  The music for the series was composed by Tsuneo Imahori (involved with series such as “Cowboy Bebop”, “Arjuna”, “Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade”, “Trigun” and “Wolf’s Rain”).

Where the video game series focused on Brandon Heat’s revenge on his former friend and organization, the anime series focuses on the friendship between Brandon and his best friend/future nemesis Harry McDowell and how he got involved with Millennion.

Having been released on DVD courtesy of Geneon and then later by FUNimation Entertainment, “Gungrave: The Complete Series” receives its first HD treatment on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment as part of their “Anime Classics” on Blu-ray lineup!

The main characters of “Gungrave” are:

Brandon Heat/Beyond the Grave – During his younger years, Brandon was a small-time criminal along with his friend Harry McDowell.   A bit lost in life and tries to make sense of it.  He is very fond of Maria and would do anything for her.  Due to circumstances when he was younger, he and Harry join one of the top mafia organizations known as Millennion and quickly rises the ranks over the years, but despite his success, because he wants to keep Maria out of his trouble, he keeps his distance.  “Beyond the Grave” is the name given Brandon Heat after receiving the necrolyze treatment to revive him courtesy of Dr. T.  Unlike most who receive the necrolyze treatment, Brandon still retains his soul for those he cares about but at the same time, much more deadlier in this form as he exacts his revenge.

Harry McDowell – “Bloody Harry”, the leader of the small-time gang of Desolation Alley, he and Brandon join Millennion.  But for Harry, having so much power starts to take over his ego and will kill anyone to achieve such power.

Maria Asagi – Has always been passionate towards Brandon who was raised by Millennion mafia member Jester.  When Jester was killed, she moved in with the leader of Millennion, a powerful man named Big Daddy.

Mika Asagi – Seen at the beginning of the series (and the primary character of the video game series) and is the daughter of Maria and Big Daddy.

Big Daddy – The leader and founder of Millennion.  Despite being in charge of a mafia organization, he has always been kind towards Maria and also Brandon.

Bear Walken – Big Daddy’s right hand man and one of the major members of Millennion.   Has a daughter named Sherry who is engaged to Harry but at the same time, doesn’t trust Harry but for his daughter’s safety, agrees to side with him.

Bunji Kugashira – An assassin from rival group who ends up becoming a member of Millennion and a friend of Brandon.

Bob Poundmax – One of Harry’s key men (his second “superior”) who is quite intelligent but overweight.

Balladbird Lee – Bob’s best friend and a member of Millennion.

Dr. Tokioka (Dr. T) – The scientist who developed necrolyzation (reviving the dead).

The series are broken down in several arc’s.  The first arc pretty much focuses on Harry, Brandon and his friends living on the streets and getting into trouble.  Unfortunately, the trouble they get involved is big enough to get them and their friends killed.

The second arc features Harry and Brandon joining Millennion and how they slowly grow in rank and become one of the top people in the organization as they take on the rival organization known as Lightning. Also, the plan of the mafia organizations to use necrolyzation to revive their dead and make them monsters.

The third arc focuses on Harry’s thirst for power and will do whatever it takes to get to the top.

The final arc focusing on what people are familiar from the video games and that is Brandon Heat revived as this killing machine known as “Beyond the Grave” and exacting revenge on those responsible for his death and protecting the people he cares about.

VIDEO:

“Gungrave: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  One has to remember that “Gungrave” was an anime released back in 2003.  So, anime fans should not expect that uber-vibrant, colorful, digital look as many anime released today.  Also, the anime series is a television series so it is not going to have all the major detail such as an OVA or film.  But for the most part, the anime character designs uses dark edges, while certain scenes feature good artistic backgrounds, many buildings are well detailed.

In HD, there is a considerable difference in the fact that red colors are absolutely vibrant on Blu-ray and background art is quite detailed.  But with that being said, for the majority of the series, picture quality has what seems like an intentional softness to it.   So, certain scenes are colorful, while other scenes has this white glaze over it (especially the scenes that are focusing on the past).  Of course, those scenes were quite intentional.  But for the most part, the series is well animated.

Overall, “Gungrave” is an awesome, old school anime MADHOUSE production and when it came out back in 2003, there was no denying of how awesome this anime looked at that time and capturing the amount of emotion and also motion for a television series.  But it’s great to see how good this classic anime series looks on Blu-ray and once again, I can’t wait to see what FUNimation Entertainment has planned  for classic anime series on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “Gungrave: The Complete Series” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  The biggest improvement with the Blu-ray release is that the action and the gun shots really come alive the surround channels and via LFE.

I had the opportunity to watch the series in both Japanese and English and for the most part, voice acting is solid for both.  The series is pretty much front and center channel driven since its mostly a dialogue driven series for the first four volumes.  But once the major part of the action begins, that is when the soundtrack of the series starts to shine and you do get pretty good surround sound usage.  Also, fans of Tsuneo Imahori’s music, will definitely enjoy what he has to bring to the series.

Subtitles are only in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gungrave – The Complete Set” comes with the following on disc three:

  • Promo Video Collection – The promotional video (5:20) is more or less the commercials for the series before it aired on Japanese television.
  • Textless opening and ending themes

Note: It’s important to note that the special features that did not carry over from the DVD release are the conceptual art and commercials which included the TV, DVD and original soundtrack spots.

EXTRAS:

“Gungrave: The Complete Series” comes with a slip over cover case.

“Gungrave – The Complete Set” is possibly one of the more exciting, mature and solid anime series that is originally based off a video game.  For the most part, many video game turned to anime have not had a well-told storyline but for “Gungrave”, you really do get an action-packed, mafia storyline about power and corruption but also a little of that twisted scientific logic of bring the dead back alive and them returning as monsters.

What I enjoyed about “Gungrave” the most is that it it slowly built the storyline around Brandon and Harry’s friendship and eventually leading to Brandon’s return as “Beyond the Grave”.  Despite the game having this cool character, the series focuses more on the mafia/yakuza-style of storylines that we typically read from manga or have seen long ago on a series such as “Crying Freeman” without the sex and humor.  This is anime series is dramatic, violent and for the most part, one may even look at the series going for a more “Godfather” style of storyline.

Needless to say, a series by Yasuhiro Nightow brings excitement to fans who loved his previous series “Trigun”.  Once we see Beyond the Grave (Brandon) start to take charge and exact revenge, the series which was already quite enjoyable already gets an extra dose of excitement as the series transforms to another style of anime and is geared to a more violent, action-paced anime series.  And by no means is this anime for the younger folks, although this series doesn’t have the sex and humor of other yakuza/mafia-based anime, it is a violent anime series.

And that is where Nightow’s creativity shines.  From Beyond the Grave’s character, the dramatic moments intensified with Maria and Mika, the transformation of the “Superiors”, the action sequences and also the weapons.  “Gungrave” definitely is an exciting, action-packed final episodes of this awesome series.  But you feel the series character development and mafia storyline pays off, as storyline development of both Brandon and Harry’s characters, their friendship leads to to the final episodes.  The anime series could have gone the cliched storylines on revenge but suffice to say, the ending is not exactly what one may expect and overall, a fresh way to end this complex series.

Last, it is great to see “Gungrave” released by FUNimation Entertainment as part of their dedication to releasing classic anime on Blu-ray and the series looks great on Blu-ray!  Picture quality is much clearer, colors are more vibrant than its DVD counterpart but still, it is an older anime series and there are many scenes that were intentionally mean to look a bit soft.

But the picture quality is great and also, the addition of the lossless Japanese and English soundtrack was fantastic!  No doubt, this is the definitive version to own of “Gungrave” for now!  And if you love the series, you will love this Blu-ray release!

Overall, “Gungrave: The Complete Series” is an enjoyable series with an intriguing storyline, good amount of action and solid animation.   For those who enjoyed the original PS2 games, it was exciting to know that the game would have its own animated series back then and whether or not you remember those games, for one wanting an action-based anime series, if you’re open to classic anime, you can’t really go wrong with “Gungrave”.

Also, exciting to find out afterward that for an anime inspired from a video game, “Gungrave” didn’t suck at all.  Overall, “Gungrave: The Complete Series” is definitely recommended!

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