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Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

 I can’t recommend “Wolf’s Rain” enough for those wanting a deep, captivating story with wonderful animation.  It’s a classic anime series for sure!  Yes, it may not be perfect but it’s still one of the shining gems from the early 2000’s worth owning on Blu-ray!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2017 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series

YEAR: 2003

DURATION: Episodes 1-30 (750 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4:3, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1, Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 7, 2017


Originally Creator: Keiko Nobumoto

Directed by Tensai Okamura

Script by Keiko Nobumoto

Music by Yoko Kanno

Character Design by Toshiro Kawamoto

Art Director: Atsushi Morikawa

Mechanical Design by Shinji Aramaki

Anime Production by BONES


Featuring the following voice talent:

Akio Suyama/Joshua Seth as Hige

Hiroki Shimowada/Mona Marshall as Toboe

Kaho Kouda/Kari Wahlgren as Cher Degre

Kenta Miyake/Crispin Freeman as Tsume

Mamoru Miyano/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kiba

Arisa Ogasawara/Sherry Lynn as Cheza

Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Jagura

Mayumi Asano/Jessica Straus as Blue

Mitsuru Miyamoto/Robert Buchholz as Hubb Lebowski

Takaya Kuroda/Steven Jay Blum as Darcia

Unshō Ishizuka/Tom Wyner as Quent Yaiden


Paradise-a legend, a myth, and a hopeless dream in a world that has become a wasteland. It is not meant for everyone, only the wolves thought to be extinct yet still roam the lands. When the Flower Maiden awakens, the path to the end will open.

Kiba, a lone white wolf, wanders into a poverty stricken city on a quest. The scent of Lunar Flowers and the will to find Paradise is all he has. Along the way, he runs into other outcast wolves: Tsume, Hige, and Toboe, each with their own story and troubles. Fate bringing them together, and together they seek out the Flower Maiden, Cheza, and their way to Paradise. But, doing so is no simple matter.

Up against a world that fears them and a man with mysterious abilities, their journey is overrun with challenges and worse-sacrifices. With limited time, they must fight to protect Cheza against everyone who seeks her and discover the hidden path to their destiny. This group of broken souls will form a pack and take their journey to the doors of Paradise. But is it worth the end of the world?


Back in 2003, BONES anime studio released the 26-episode + 4 OAV anime series “Wolf’s Rain” on Fuji TV.  The series would receive a short two-volume manga retelling by Keiko Nobumoto and Toshitsugu Iida (illustrations) and serialized in “Magazine Z”.

The anime series was done well in Japan but when the anime series was released on Adult Swim, needless to say, it would attract many America viewers.  So popular that the DVD release sold well in North America .  And now 15-years later, the series will be released on Blu-ray as a complete series courtesy of FUNimation.

The series begins with a telling of an old legend that when the end of the world is coming, Paradise will appear.  But only wolves can find Paradise.

While wolves have been extinct on Earth for nearly 200-years, they still exist, but now casting illusions onto themselves to make them appear human to the public.

The anime series first introduces us to an injured lone white wolf who is going to Freeze City (where the majority of people are living in poverty).

As Kiba, the lone white arctic wolf is going to Freeze City following the scent of the Lunar Flower, Kiba is in search for this flower as it is a key to open Paradise but most of all, to protect Cheza, the flower maiden.

Kiba is rescued by a Mexican wolf named Hige, who loves to eat and talk to women.  While he feels comfortable living in human society, he decides to join Kiba in his mission to find Paradise.

Toboe is a red wolf and the youngest of the group.  He is considered the runt of the group and was raised by an old woman who found him outside the city and wears bracelets that she gave him.  He is friendly and protective towards most humans and he was saved by the rash Tsume.  He is not much of a fighter and is quite naive.

Tsume is a grey wolf with a X scar across his chest.  He is a strong fighter, rash, rude and seems as if he is mad at the world.  After his human gang leaves him, he decides to join Kiba, Tsume and Hige in their quest of paradise, even though he is skeptical that it exists.

Meanwhile, an ex-sheriff named Quent Yaiden is on the hunt for wolves, whom he blames for killing his wife and son.  Quent has developed a pure hatred towards wolves and despite hunting them, humans don’t believe that wolves exist but Quent has suspicions that wolves are disguising themselves as humans after he comes across Toboe.

He is approached by a police detective named Hubb Lebowski, who is investigating that wolves are involved, despite being skeptical.

His ex-wife Cher Degre is a scientist studying Cheza and her dedication of learning about Cheza has taken over her life, and thus her divorcing her husband.  But when Cher disappears, Hubb tries to find her.

When Hubb discovers the banned book “Book of the Moon” in Cher’s apartment, he joins forces with Quent in hopes it would lead him to his ex-wife, who he still loves.

Will any of these four wolves searching for Paradise find what they are looking for?


VIDEO:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. With this being an older anime series, it’s important to note that this is an SD Remaster.  While colors are vibrant, there is softness as one could expect for a TV series.  But for the most part, this classic anime series features wonderful animation and art backgrounds and watching it nearly 15-years later, you can’t help but feel that BONES did a marvelous job with this anime series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD stereo. Both soundtracks are well-acted but I felt the English dialogue had the advantage of the use of the surround channels when it comes to lossless audio utilization.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Cast Interview 1 – (6:57) Featuring an interview with Japanese voice actors: Mamoru Miyano (voice of Kiba), Kenta Miyake (voice of Tsume) and Hiroki Shimowada (voice of Toboe).
  • Cast Interview 2 – (8:18) Featuring an interview with Unshou Ishizuka (voice of Quent Yaiden), Takaya Kuroda (voice of Darcia), Kaho Kouda (voice of Cher Degre), Mitsuru Miyamoto (voice of Hubb Lebowski), Arisa Ogasawara (voice of Cheza).
  • Staff Interview – (6:08) Behind-the-scenes recording with the producers and staff about the creation of “Wolf’s Rain”.
  • Pilot Film – (2:18) Japanese pilot film for “Wolf’s Rain”.
  • Promo Film 1 & 2 – Japanese promotional videos for “Wolf’s Rain”.
  • 15-Second Promos
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs

EXTRAS:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


Back in 2004, “Wolf’s Rain” was no doubt a hit anime series that captivated not just Japanese audiences but also American audiences.

An anime series that managed to have wonderful, dark visuals plus fascinating characters and a lot of action, I enjoyed “Wolf’s Rain” for its originality and also how the series ended.

Similar to feudal Akira Kurosawa series, where you never know if the protagonists are going to survive to the end, “Wolf’s Rain” is a series that shows that in this dismal world, these wolves that dream of paradise have made the decision to move forward, whether or not paradise exists or not.

All I can say is have the tissue box nearby, you’ll be shedding a few tears watching this anime series.

As much as I enjoyed this series, as most people who followed the series back then are aware that “Wolf’s Rain” did suffer production problems.  And episodes 15-18 were recap episodes told from the perspective of Tsume, Toboe, Hige and Hubb expanding the series to 30 episodes.

With the release of “Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” on Blu-ray/DVD you get the full series for a lower price.  Back in 2004-2005, people had to purchase all seven volumes to watch the entire series until the limited edition box set was released in late 2005 and a Perfect Collection (Anime Legends) release came out in 2009.

This release is essentially the Perfect Collection but with an SD Remaster onto Blu-ray.  So, for those wanting the better picture quality and lossless soundtrack will want to opt for this version.

Overall, I can’t recommend “Wolf’s Rain” enough for those wanting a deep, captivating story with wonderful animation.  It’s a classic anime series for sure!  Yes, it may not be perfect but it’s still one of the shining gems from the early 2000’s worth owning on Blu-ray!  Recommended!

Sankarea: Undying Love – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

For those wanting to see a weird, crazy and at times dark, anime series about a zombie-loving human and a zombie-girl, then “Sankarea: Undying Love” is for you!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Sankarea: Undying Love

YEAR: 2012

DURATION: Episodes 1-13

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV M

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Originally Created by Mitsuru Hattori

Directed by Mamoru Hatakeyama

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Yukari Hashimoto

Character Design by Kyuta Sakai

Art Director: Hirotsugu Kakoi

Anime Production: Studio DEEN

Featuring the following voice talent:

Maaya Uchida/Tia Ballard as Rea Sanka

Ryohei Kimura/Aaron Dismuke as Chihiro Furuya

Mayumi Asano/Lydia Mackay as Aria Sanka

Misato Fukuen/Monica Rial as Baabu

Saori Hayashi/Ryan Reynolds as Mogi

Sayuri Yahagi as Ranko Saoji

Seirou Ogino/Christopher Smith as Doon Furuya

Shiro Saito/Mike McFarland as Jogoro Furuya

Shuuhei Iwase/David Trosko as Yasutaka

Unshou Ishizuka/David Wald as Dan’ichiro Sanka

Yuka Iguchi/Felecia Angelle as Mero Furuya

Zombie-obsessed Furuya is making a potion to reanimate his dead cat when he meets Rea. She’s about as miserable as a girl can get, thanks to her creepy, domineering father. When the pain becomes too much, she tries to commit suicide with a sip of Furuya’s weird elixir. The potion doesn’t kill her – but it does turn her into a zombie after she falls from a cliff.

 

Now that Rea’s undead and ready to finally live, she hides out with Furuya, who’s always dreamed of having a zombie girlfriend. Their one-of-a-kind relationship comes with some challenges, like the fact that Rea is decomposing. Even worse, her freak-show dad is dangerously determined to get her back under his control. As Furuya fights to keep his ghoulfriend safe, Rea finds the secret to resurrecting her happiness: live like you’re dying – even if you’re already dead.

In 2009, mangaka Mitsuru Hattori’s “Sankarea” manga began its serialization in Kodansha’s “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine” and is ongoing (as of June 2013, a total of eight volumes have been published).

Hattori, known for his work on “Concerto”, “Inu Neko Juno!” and “Kenko Zenrakei Suiebu Umisho” goes for a romantic comedy with darker elements in “Sankarea”.

In 2012, a 13-episode anime adaptation was created by Studio DEEN and would be directed by Shinichi Omata (“Rozen Maiden – Zuruckspulen”), series composition by Noburo Takagi (“C-Control – The Money and Soul of Possibility”, “Baccano!”, “My Little Monster”), music by Yukari Hashimoto (“Koi Kaze”, “MoonPhase”, “Magikano”), character designs by Kyuta Sakai (“Pita Ten”, “Strawberry Panic!”) and art direction by Hirotsugu Kakoi (“07-Ghost”, “Blue Exorcist”, “InuYasha”).

And the anime series “Sankarea: Undying Love” was released on Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack in Oct. 2013 courtesy of FUNimation.

“Sankarea: Undying Love” revolves around a teenager named Chihiro Furuya.  He is obsessed with zombies (he plays only zombie-related video games, watches zombie anime and films) to the point that he has no desire to have a human girlfriend, he wants a girlfriend that is a zombie.

He recently found an old manuscript to resurrect the dead and he tries the potion on his dead cat, Babu.

Meanwhile, Rea Sanka is a teenager who is abused by her father.  His father insists that she be home-schooled as he is obsessed with her and photographs her nude on her birthday each year, as he wants to “note her growth”.

One day, Chihiro overhears Rea talking about her life problems and afraid that someone had heard, she pleads to Chihiro to not tell anyone. As the two become friends, she finds out that he is only interested in zombies.  And jokes that if she is a zombie, would he take care of her and Chihiro agrees.

Meanwhile, she hears about his resurrection potion and one day, she steals and drinks it, as she tries to attempt suicide due to the abuse she receives from her father, Dan’Ichiro Sanka.

Meanwhile, as her father tries to go after her, jealous that she may be seeing a guy, he pursues her near a cliff and tries to bring her back home.  She slaps his hand and while Chihiro sees Rea and her father having a discussion near the cliff, Rea tries to tell her father that he doesn’t own her body and soul and that she wants her freedom.

When his father is upset that she wants the freedom to love, he grabs her and tries to force her to the house and doesn’t want her seeing Chihiro.  Meanwhile, both see Babu resurrected and that the resurrection potion that Chihiro created has worked.  But as her father hates cats, he tries to kill it with a bar but Rea takes the hit and falls off the cliff.  She is impaled by a sharp rock and falls to her death.

As Chihiro runs to her body and cries, suddenly the resurrection potion that she had drunk has kept her alive but now, Rea has become a zombie.

And now Rea lives with Chihiro but starts to show signs of rigor mortis and thus the resurrection potion is not perfect.  So, he tries to find a way to preserve Rea’s body, Rea begins to fall for him, but also his cousin Ranko.

But what happens when Rea’s father, Dan’ichiro’s obsession with his daughter, is wanting her back into his home, despite her being a zombie.

VIDEO:

“Sankarea: Undying Love – The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Studio Deen did a very good job with the anime series.  Colors are vibrant and there are moments in the series where the art backgrounds are actually beautiful to look at, while other backgrounds were static CG.  Character designs and shading are well-done.  But for the most part, the anime series is vibrant and I saw no problems with banding, artifacts or any other issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sankarea: Undying Love – The Complete Series” is presented in English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Japanese stereo.  The anime series features crisp and clear dialogue and music, but while the anime series does have its moments of action and use of the surround channels, the soundtrack is primarily center and front-channel driven.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sankarea: Undying Love – The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Episode 3 – Featuring audio commentary with Tia Ballard (Rea Sanka) and Aaron Dismuke (Chihiro Furuya).
  • Audio Commentary – Episode 11 – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Joel McDonald, Teri Doty and David Wald (voice of Dan’ichiro Sanka).
  • Clean Opening and Closing

EXTRAS:

“Sankarea: Undying Love – The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.

While anything zombie-related has become popular in Japan, from films to manga and even the Zombie walk through Roppongi, the question is if they can create unique stories that are different from what many people have seen before.

For mangaka Mitsuru Hattori, he strays away from the usual zombie infestation but tries to focus on bringing together a romantic comedy with something a bit more macabre.

In the anime series “Sankarea: Undying Love”, which is an adaptation of Hattori’s manga, the anime series is definitely an interesting, “think out of the box”, type of anime-series because the main protagonist is addicted to zombies.

Zombie video games, films, etc.  he is so obsessed by them, that he wants to have a girlfriend that is zombie.

And your first inclination is, how is that going to happen?

Well, he stumbles upon his grandfather’s manuscript of a resurrection potion.  His grandfather, known as Professor Boil, happened to be a well-respected professor in the United States researching zombies and having done experiments with zombies, as his grandfather tried to resurrect his grandmother, which he did accomplish, but only for a short time.

The anime series was interesting because each time it focused on Chihiro, it was more of insane, crazy comedy.  The fact that everyone thinks he’s a weirdo because of his obsession with zombies and dreams of having a zombie girlfriend, his buddies are horny teenagers and he has a busty cousin named Ranko who likes him but also beats him up.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum is Rea Sanka, a daughter from wealthy family, she’s not very happy with life and is often depressed.  But there is a darker storyline and it is the fact that her father is strict, a germaphobe and so he wants his daughter to stay inside the house and obey his every command.  But even worse is the fact that her father has a thing about taking pictures of his daughter in the nude for each birthday, in order to document her growth.  Suffice to say, there is this incestual atmosphere that is very uncomfortable to watch.  (Note: I don’t want to spoil the storyline but for concerned viewers, the act of actual incest does NOT happen in the anime series.)

Until, Rea becomes  a zombie and starts living with Chihiro.  And thus, the anime becomes a romantic comedy as Rea is now free away from her father, getting taken care of by Chihiro, while Chihiro tries to find ways to prevent the rigor mortis from settling in and killing Rea.

But as this anime series is only 13-episodes long, the end of the 13th episode leaves the viewer with a sort of a shocking surprise and I would imagine that as the manga series continues, it leaves the possibility for a second season as perhaps this romantic comedy may get even darker.

As for the Blu-ray release, colors are vibrant.  I didn’t detect any banding or artifact issues during my viewing of the series.  Special features include two English dub commentary and clean opening and ending themes.

Overall, “Sankarea: Undying Love” is definitely a zombie storyline that is unique and the fact that it is a romantic comedy but also incorporating these dark, macabre elements, that surprised me.  But the uniqueness doesn’t translate to awesome.  Most of the time, it felt as Chihiro was constantly reminding Rea of how she should treat her body, to reminder her to eat the leaves and not to overdo it. And I understand his concern but I felt that the first six episodes were character driven storylines for Chihiro and Rea and then later for Ranko, Mero, Dan’Ichiro and Aria.  But the storyline does pickup with the latter episodes.

But for those wanting zombie infestations, this is not that kind of anime series. This is nothing like “High School of the Dead” or “Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?” nor the “Resident Evil” video games.

For those wanting to see a weird, crazy and at times dark, anime series about a zombie-loving human and a zombie-girl, then “Sankarea: Undying Love” is for you!

 

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