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

March 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: December 27, 2016


Directed by Takashi Sano

Series Composition by Natsuko Takahashi

Character Design by Michinori Chiba

Art Director: Daisuke Jinba

Chief Animation Director: Toshimitsu Kobayashi, Yumenosuke Tokuda

Anime Production by Telecom Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kazuya Nakai/Robert McCollum as Date Masamune

Souichiro Hoshi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Sanada Yukimura

Tomokazu Seki/Matthew Mercer as Ishida Mitsunari

Toru Ohkawa/Liam O’Brien as Tokugawa Ieyasu

Ami Koshimizu/Kat Steel as Tsuruhime

Fumihiko Tachiki/Mark Stoddard as Ohtani Yoshitsugu

Jun Fukuyama/Tony Oliver as Kobayakawa Hideaki

Kenichi Ogata/R. Bruce Elliott as Shimazu Yoshihiro

Mamiko Noto/Laura Bailey as Oichi

Masakazu Morita/Eric Vale as Maeda Keiji

Natsuko Kuwatani/Stephanie Sheh as Kasuga

Noriaki Sugiyama/Brittney Karbowski as Otomo Sourin

Rikiya Koyama/Richard Epcar as Kuroda Kanbee

Romi Park/Greg Ayres as Uesugi Kenshin

Takehito Koyasu/Michael Sinterniklaas as Sarutobi Sasauke

Tessho Genda/Chris Ayres as Takeda Shingen

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Travis Willingham as Katakura Kojuro


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Venture Bros. – The Fifth Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

vb-5

If you are a longtime viewer of the crazy misadventures of the Adult Swim animated series “The Venture Bros.”, will no doubt enjoy the continued adventures of Team Venture, especially in HD!

Images courtesy of © Cartoon Network. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Venture Bros. – The Fifth Season

TV SERIES AIR DATE: 2013

DURATION: 10 EPISODES (198 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9 Widescreen, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Adult Swim

RATED: TV MA L

Release Date: March 5, 2014

Created by Christopher McCulloch

Directed by Christopher McCulloch, Ethan Marak

Written by Christopher McCulloch, Doc Hammer

Executive Producer: Christpoher McCulloch, Keith Crofford, Michael Lazzo, Steven S.H. Yoon, Doc Hammer

Music by J. G. Thirlwell

Cinematography by Jeff Gardner

Edited by Elizabeth Winter

Starring:

Christopher McCulloch as Hank Venture

James Urbaniak as Dr. Venture

Michael Sinterniklaas as Dean Venture

Doc Hmmaer as Henchman 21

Patrick Warburton as Brock Samson

Steven Rattazzi as Dr. Orpheus

Paul Boocock as Dr. Jonas Venture

Mia Barron as Molotov Cocktease

Brendon Small as Action Johnny

Enjoy the fun adventures of Finn and Jake with this Adventure Time DVD featuring the complete third season. Travel through the Land of Ooo with your favorite characters including Beemo, Marceline the Vampire Queen, and the Ice King.

In 2003, “Venture Bros.” would have its series premiere on the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim”.

The adult animated series was created by Christopher McCulloch (a.k.a. Jackson Publick) and the series would air on Adult Swim every other year.

Often compared with an adult and twisted version of “Jonny Quest”, “The Venture Bros.” is a series that revolve around Team Venture, especially the Venture twins (Henry and Dean) who take on their nemesis known as The Monarch.  And an ongoing storyline of how these twins constantly are killed but are replaced by clone versions.

The main characters featured on the “Venture Bros.” are:

  • Henry Allen “Hank” Venture – The fraternal twin with blonde hair.  He is outgoing and athletic.
  • Dean Venture – The fraternal twin who is a brunette and is the more intelligent of the twins.
  • Dr. Thaddeus S. “Rusty” Venture – The father of the twins and the lazy scientist who inherited Venture Industries from the famous Dr. Jonas Venture.
  • Sergeant Hatred – The former nemesis of Dr. Venture turned Venture family bodyguard.  His wife has left him for Scorpio and has a obsession of looking at his man boobs.
  • Dermott Fictel – A compulsive liar and was revealed in season four to be the third son of Dr. Venture.
  • Dr. Jonas Venture, Jr. – The deformed twin of Dr. Venture, who is more successful than Rusty.
  • The Monarch – The nemesis of Team Venture.
  • Dr. Mrs. the Monarch (Dr. Girlfriend) – Wife and assistant to The Monarch with a voice of a man.

Season 5 features a total of 10 episodes which are 45 minutes long (all episodes are on one Blu-ray disc). Here is a spoilerless summary of each episode:

  • EPISODE 56 – “What Color is Your Cleansuit?” – Dr. Venture hires Billy Quizboy, Pete White and others. Meanwhile, Dean becomes more emo.
  • EPISODE 57 – “Venture Libre” – General Manhowers sends Dr. Venture, Hank and Sgt. Hatred to Central America to find Venturestein.
  • EPISODE 58 – “SPHINX Rising” – After Gary posts a request on Guildlist for work on SPHINX, those interested are former members of SPHINX.
  • EPISODE 59 – “Spanakopita!” – Dr. Venture, Billy and White head to Spanakopita Festival for the Greek Islands.
  • EPISODE 60 – “O.S.I. Love You” – Molotov and Monstroso are kidnapped by Brock and the OSI.
  • EPISODE 61 – “Momma’s Boys” – Hank and Dermott try to sneak out of the house without their father knowing.
  • EPISODE 62 – “Bot Seeks Bot” – What is happening to Council 13?
  • EPISODE 63 – “The Devil’s Grip” -With Dr. Venture assumed to be dead, the twins are sent to live with their godparents.

VIDEO:

“The Venture Bros. – The Fifth Season” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Colors are absolutely vibrant, there is some banding issues, as well as some artifacts that I saw in different parts of the series, but nothing too hideous.

If anything, the color palette is vibrant, blacks are nice and deep but picture quality is not perfect, nor does it hinder one’s enjoyability of the series.

AUDIO:

“The Venture Bros. – The Fifth Season” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1.

For a Cartoon Network Blu-ray release, the good news is that the series was given a lossless soundtrack and that there is surround and LFE usage.  Not a whole lot but there is surround usage and also a few moments of LFE-use.  Dialogue is crystal clear and while there is music, it’s more background noise.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Venture Bros. – The Fifth Season” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Each episode features audio commentary by Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer.
  • Deleted Scenes – (5:52) Featuring deleted scenes from the fifth season of “The Venture Bros.”.
  • Fax My Grandson – (3:14) The further adventures of Diamond Backdraft.
  • A Very Venture Halloween – (22:29) A special Halloween episode of “The Venture Bros.”
  • A Very Venture Halloween Audio Commentary – (22:29) Audio commentary with Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick for the special Halloween episode of “The Venture Bros.” and the use of newer production and with an editor.
  • From the Ladle to the Grave: The Shallow Gravy Story – (11:45) A story of failure and triumph and more failure and more triumph about the band “The Shallow Gravy Story”.

EXTRAS:

“The Venture Bros. – The Fifth Season” comes with a slipcase. Also, included is an Ultraviolet code which allows you to watch and share on computers, iPhones, iPads, Android devices, game consoles and connected TV’s.

As season six of “The Venture Bros.” is being planned for release, the fifth season is now available on Blu-ray!

The adventures continue the craziness of Team Venture and the misadventures of the group continues as the fifth season marked a change in the series as we got to see the twins going through major changes. From the twins learning that they are clones, Dermott finally learning his relation to the Venture family and also The Monarch finally enacting his plans to catch Dr. Venture.

For those not familiar with this series, you will definitely want to catch the previous seasons to know the characters and what has transpired in previous seasons as these characters do evolve.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant, while there are some issues of banding and minor artifacts, but nothing that ruins your viewing of the series.  The soundtrack is also lossless and there is use of the surround channels and LFE, not a whole lot, but the fact that we do get a lossless soundtrack is a plus.

Also, you get the Halloween special and each episode including the special Halloween episode comes with an audio commentary track.  How awesome is that?!

Overall, if you are a longtime viewer of the crazy misadventures of the Adult Swim animated series “The Venture Bros.”, will no doubt enjoy the continued adventures of Team Venture, especially in HD!

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Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

tigerandbunny-movie

“Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” on Blu-ray is awesome!  Not only do you get an awesome film but you get the 2+ hour Japanese world premiere event plus many other special features include with the Blu-ray release!  If you were a fan of the anime TV series or the manga, then I highly recommend “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”!

Image courtesy of © SUNRISE/T&B Movie Partners. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning

YEAR: 2012

DURATION: 92 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani

Series Composition by Masafumi Nishida

Music by Yoshihiro Ike

Original Creator: Hajime Yatate

Original Character Design by Masakazu Katsura

Hero Design: Masakazu Katsura

Anime Production: Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroaki Hirata/Wally Wingert as Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger

Masakazu Morita/Yuri Lowenthal as Barnaby Brooks Jr.

Go Inoue/Patrick Seitz as Keith Goodman/Sky High

Hiroshi Iwasaki/Dave Wittenberg as Doc Saito

Katsuhisa Houki/Beau Billingslea as Ben Jackson

Keiji Fujiwara/Steven Blum as Jake Martinez

Kenjiro Tsuda/John Eric Bentley as Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem

Koji Yusa/Liam O’Brien as Yuri Petrov/Lunatic

Mariya Ise/Laura Bailey as Pao-Lin Huang/Dragon Kid

Michiko Neya/Stephanie Sheh as Kriem

Minako Kotobuki/Kari Wahlgren as Karina Lyle/Blue Rose

Nobuaki Fukuda/Jamieson Price as Albert Maverick

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Michael Sinterniklaas as Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone

Rina Hidaka/Een Riegel as Kaede Kaburagi

Taiten Kusunoki/Travis Willingham as Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison

Wataru Yokojima/Daran Norris as Alexander Lloyds

Yuko Kaida/Tara Platt as Agnes Joubert

In the metropolis of Stern Bild, there are heroes who wear the logos of sponsors and protect the city from danger. Their exploits are broadcast on the popular HERO TV. Wild Tiger (Kotetsu T. Kaburagi) is a veteran superhero past his peak who is ordered by his company to team up with the rookie hero Barnaby Brooks Jr. Can these two mismatched superheroes overcome their differences to protect the city?

In 2011, the anime studio Sunrise, best known for its anime series for “Mobile Suit Gundam”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Dirty Pair”, “City Hunter” to name a few, went on to work on anime series that would captivate older viewers but also something unique and different for anime fans.

And the 25- episode TV series “Tiger & Bunny” was created.  The series aired in Japan on April 2011 and also was seen in the U.S. via Hulu, the Anime News Network “Neon Alley”.

But in 2012, due to the popularity of the series, a film titled “Gekijo-ban Tiger & Bunny – The Beginning-” was released in theaters in September 2012 and also a simulcast screening in the USA.

And now “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

What is “Tiger & Bunny” about?

“Tiger & Bunny” takes place in NC1978 in the city of Sternbild City. 45 years prior, humans with supernatural abilities known as “NEXT” began appearing in the planet. And now, these people with special abilities and are superheroes sponsored by major corporations such as Pepsi, Softbank, Calbee, etc. and are featured on the popular reality TV show titled “Hero TV”.

Each season, these heroes try to achieve points by capturing/defeating criminals and the best ranked superhero will be crowned as “King of Heroes”. While each are competing with each other, often they work as a superhero team.

The primary characters are of “Tiger & Bunny” are:

  • Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger – One of the main protagonist, he is one of the oldest superheros and unlike others, tends not to listen to orders as he is the “Crusher of Justice” and could care less about the ratings. Because he causes too much damage and likes to do things alone, he was forced to take on a new partner, Barnaby Brooks Jr. Kotetsu is also a single father who never gets to see his daughter because of his superhero obligations, so she lives with his mother. His daughter is unaware that he is a superhero. Tiger’s power is the ability to increase his physical abilities for five minutes using his “Hundred Power”. His sponsors are Bandai and Softbank.
  • Barnaby Brooks Jr./Bunny – A rookie that is called “Bunny” by Kotetsu. He is more about strategy and is not as rash as Kotetsu. He has a reason why he became a superhero and that is to find the one who killed his parents. His sponsors are Amazon Japan and Bandai. He also has similar powers to Kotetsu and becoming “King of Heroes” is important to him.
  • Karina Lyle/Blue Rose – A popular girl in high school who wants to be a singer. She has freezing power abilities and is sponsored by Pepsi Nex and Suntory. She represents Titan Industry.
  • Keith Goodman/Sky High – A popular hero and is the current “King of Heroes”. He is upbeat and has the power to control air current. He is sponsored by Tamashii Nations and Ustream and represents Poseidon Line.
  • Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem – An effeminate hero with flame abilities, Nathan wants to be part of the girls. He is sponsored by FMV and Animate and represents Helios Energy.
  • Huang Pao-Lin/Dragon Kid – A tomboy Chinese girl who has the power to generate electrical discharge. She lived in China with her parents but they wanted her to go to Sternbild City to become a hero. She is sonosred by Calbee and DMM.com and is represented by Odysseys Communication.
  • Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison – Kotetsu’s best friend since high school, his power is invulnerability. He is in last place of the Hero’s standings and is sponsored by Gyu-Kaku and represents Kronos Foods.
  • Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone – A young hero who is typically seen standing behind-the-scenes and not fighting, Ivan has the power to shapeshift and copy the appearance and voice of another. His sponsors are .ANIME and he represents Helperidese Finance.

What is “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” about?

The film establishes the beginning of Kotetsu and Barnaby’s partnership.  Why they became partners but most importantly how Kotetsu lost his first costume, his original sponsorship but most importantly filling in certain details that were not in the TV series.

While animated films are not typically canon, for “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”, the film goes into those small details that fans can truly appreciate and it takes place during the time after the second episode in the TV series.

The movie is set not long after “Sky High” has won the title of “King of Heroes”.  But also the importance of being a hero is for Kotetsu, who made a promise to his deceased wife that he will always stay being a hero. So, despite being away from his daughter, who is unaware that her father is the superhero “Wild  Tiger”, she thinks that her father chooses work over being with her, when in truth, Kotetsu is trying to be a protector of the people.

And during the new season of the reality show Hero TV, after a pursuit of a suspect, sometimes being a hero, makes Kotetsu make the decisions without planning them and it often gets him in trouble, especially since his max power limit is only five minutes long.  While nearly falling to his death, he is rescued by Barnaby and immediately, we learn that Kotetsu’s old sponsor could no longer continue and that the new sponsor for Wild Tiger is the same sponsor for Barnaby.

While Kotetsu and Barnaby don’t get along at first, it’s even difficult to get the others to warm up to Barnaby as they consider him a rival on Hero TV.

And as Kotetsu tries to get used to his new partnership, all heroes must work together to stop a thief named  Robin Baxter, who has stolen a statue that represents the importance of heroes.  But what makes it difficult to stop Robin is his NEXT power to instantly switch and trade places with anyone he sees.

Can these heroes work together?

VIDEO:

“Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). “Tiger & Bunny” looks absolutely vibrant on Blu-ray. From the detail of the futuristic structures, the costume design for the characters in superhero form, the mechanical design of vehicles and costumes and just the many location shots utilized for this anime series alone, these days, you don’t see too many anime studios going all out for a TV series, but in this case, Sunrise went all out with “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.

Awesome character designs, background art is fantastic but just the character and mechanical designs featuring animation and CG is well-done. The character designs catches your attention with the colors and shading but the mechanical design and the superhero character designs look awesome. Even the art backgrounds as the futuristic city is well-painted, full of detail and adds to the overall look of the series.

“Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” looks magnificent in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” is presented in lossless English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio  5.1 and 2.0. Both are similar when it comes to special effects. Dialogue is crisp and clear but voice acting is well-done on both the Japanese and English soundtrack. But this time, you can hear the music and certain sound effects being utilized on the surround channels.  But the lossless soundtrack is fantastic and it’s great to see the film receive the 5.1 treatment.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” comes with the following special features:

  • World Premiere Event – (2:15:24) The live concert performance featuring the voice talent and performers in a concert/stage-like presentation for the world premiere of “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.
  • US Premiere Event – (3:59) Interviews with those who attended the screening of “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” at New People in San Francisco and those who took part in the cosplay competition.
  • Anime Expo 2012 Highlight Reel – (1:10) “Tiger & Bunny” presence at AX 2013.
  • Ustream Special Digest – (38:59) Featuring interviews with the Japanese voice talent, crew and also the US crew when it came to the simulcast and the world premiere event and more.
  • Production Art – View the production art of “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.
  • Special Pilot Trailer– (2:10) The special pilot trailer in Japanese.
  • Pilot Trailer – (:38) The original Japanese trailer for the pilot.
  • Preview – (2:30) Original Japanese preview for “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.
  • Promotional Video  – (3:42) Original Japanese promotional video.
  • Commercial Collection – (1:51) Original Japanese commercials for “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.
  • Theater commercials – (1:32) A hilarious commercial in Japan featuring real people wearing the suits for Wild Tiger, Barnaby and Sky High, discussing how to prepare for their viewing experience at a theater.
  • Weekly Hero Countdown – (12:35) A weekly hero countdown of who is on top in “Hero TV” (Japanese).
  • Clean Opening and Clean Ending

I have raved about “Tiger & Bunny” since watching the original TV anime series and while the series is completed, I’m not surprised that people want to see more of the characters.

I tend to look at how America has the Avengers or the Justice League of America, but when it comes to superheroes, aside from sentai, this is probably the superhero team of Japan, of course with the corporate sponsorship and reality TV show twist.

But one thing the animated series and also the manga series have in common is that the story focused strongly on Kotetsu and Barnaby and the progression of these two unlikely partners and friends, growing to be like brothers and watching each other’s back.

Of course, there is only so much story that can be focused on the relationship between these partners and so this is where the film comes in.  Showing more emotional details that the TV series never zeroed in on.

From Kotetsu’s promise to his dead wife, to the losing of his uniform and his original sponsorship and more details of getting his new uniform.  And we get to see more of Blue Rose especially, singing to an audience and no doubt the product placement from Pepsi as the name is brought up several times when she shows up on screen.

But if anything, I think for fans of the series, especially for Tiger and Bunny, the additional details are quite important.  But whether or not the film is canon with the TV series, who knows. But I feel it should be!  The film really does a great job of establishing the partnership between these unlikely individuals but most importantly, for those who have no time to watch the series, now they can enjoy the film and maybe be converted to becoming “Tiger & Bunny” fans!

While the TV series of course, goes into the characters flaws, the film does show a little of Kotetsu not being there for his daughter, but how his daughter became a big Barnaby fan.  For Barnaby, it doesn’t go into too much detail about his parents death but shows how he is driven to find out who killed them.

And as for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful. Sunrise is known for creating magnificent looking anime series but “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” features wonderful character and mechanical designs and a great balance between animation and CG.  The film looks colorful and vibrant on Blu-ray and the better lossless soundtrack at 5.1 makes a big difference!

But that’s not it.  Viz Media has also included something that surprised even me and that’s the Japanese “World Premiere Event” which is over 2 hours long.  The event features performances and a lot of cool extras for fans to enjoy.  You really don’t see this anymore on US releases but when they are included, not only are anime fans getting what they pay for but you’re getting a whole lot more with the Blu-ray release of “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.  Plus there are video from the Ustream event and the New People screening in San Francisco.  So, it’s a pretty jam packed Blu-ray release!

Overall, “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” on Blu-ray is awesome!  Not only do you get an awesome film but you get the 2+ hour Japanese world premiere event plus many other special features include with the Blu-ray release!  If you were a fan of the anime TV series or the manga, then I highly recommend “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”!

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Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 2 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Review)

June 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

tigerandbunny-set2

“Tiger & Bunny” was an awesome anime series when it first began and for its second half, it managed to become better and better with each episode!  I absolutely love this series and for anyone wanting a divergence from the banal anime series that they come across, and want something with a superhero angle but with humor, action and drama. “Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 2” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © SUNRISE/T&B Partners. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 2

YEAR: 2011

DURATION: Episodes 14-25 (280 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 19, 2013

Directed by Keiichi Satou

Series Composition by Masafumi Nishida

Music by Yoshihiro Ike

Original Character Design by Masakazu Katsura

Character Design by Kenji Hayama, Masaki Yamada

Art Direction by Kinichi Okubo

Mechanical Design by Kenji Andou

3D Director: Yoshikazu Kon

Anime Production: Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroaki Hirata/Wally Wingert as Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger

Masakazu Morita/Yuri Lowenthal as Barnaby Brooks Jr.

Go Inoue/Patrick Seitz as Keith Goodman/Sky High

Hiroshi Iwasaki/Dave Wittenberg as Doc Saito

Katsuhisa Houki/Beau Billingslea as Ben Jackson

Keiji Fujiwara/Steven Blum as Jake Martinez

Kenjiro Tsuda/John Eric Bentley as Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem

Koji Yusa/Liam O’Brien as Yuri Petrov/Lunatic

Mariya Ise/Laura Bailey as Pao-Lin Huang/Dragon Kid

Michiko Neya/Stephanie Sheh as Kriem

Minako Kotobuki/Kari Wahlgren as Karina Lyle/Blue Rose

Nobuaki Fukuda/Jamieson Price as Albert Maverick

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Michael Sinterniklaas as Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone

Rina Hidaka/Een Riegel as Kaede Kaburagi

Taiten Kusunoki/Travis Willingham as Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison

Wataru Yokojima/Daran Norris as Alexander Lloyds

Yuko Kaida/Tara Platt as Agnes Joubert

Hailed as the heroes who saved Stern Bild, Kotetsu and Barnaby face a volley of media attention that includes their learning how to dance! Then, Kotetsu deals with his conflicted feelings about continuing as Wild Tiger and visits his hometown to spend time with his family. He tries to discuss his feelings with Barnaby, but when a possible new lead comes up, Kotetsu gives his full attention to helping Barnaby find the murderer of his parents.

In the first half of “Tiger & Bunny”, Kotetsu and Barnaby were able to overcome the power Jake Martinez, the person that is responsible for the murder of Barnaby’s parents.

And now that both partners have been in sync, they have climbed on top of the ratings.  But suddenly, Kotetsu notices that his power has increased, but the minutes of having power has shortened.

He finds out from a good friend and a former boss, that Captain Legend, the hero that Kotetsu has idolized, also had that same problem and lost his power completely.  And this may be a sign that Kotetsu’s power may disappear within weeks.

With his powers in decline, Kotetsu heads home and realizes how his daughter has had a tough life being left alone with her grandmother since her mother died.  And not knowing that her father is a hero, she thinks her father just doesn’t want to be around her.

So, Kotetsu is contemplating spending more time and a family and retiring as a hero.  But just as he is about to tell Barnaby his plans, Barnaby finds out from one of Jake Martinez’ followers that Jake was not responsible for the murder of Barnaby’s parents.

This leads to Barnaby starting to have another mental breakdown and as for Kotetsu and his declining powers, can he quit now that his partner really needs him?

Find out in the second half of the popular anime series “Tiger & Bunny”!

What is “Tiger & Bunny”?

In 2011, the anime studio Sunrise, best known for its anime series for “Mobile Suit Gundam”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Dirty Pair”, “City Hunter” to name a few, went on to work on anime series that would captivate older viewers but also something unique and different for anime fans.

And the 25- episode TV series “Tiger & Bunny” was created.

Directed by Keiichi Satou (“Saint Seiya the Movie”, “Karas”, “Asura”), a screenplay by Masafumi Nishida, music by Yoshihiro Ike (“Asura”, “Cobra: The Animation”, “Dead Leaves”), character designs by Kenji Hayama (“Baccano!”, “The Big O”, “Casshern Sins”, “Getter Robo: Armageddon”) and Masaki Yamada (“Ergo Proxy”, “Appleseed”, “Great Dangaioh”), background art by Kinichi Okubo (“Ex-Driver”, “Honey and Clover”, “Angel Beats!”), mechanical design by Kenji Andou (“Origini ~Spirits of the Past~”, “Votoms Finder”), Yoshikazu Kon (“Gurren Lagann”, “Shangri-La”, “Mobil Suit Gundam 00”).

The series aired in Japan on April 2011 and also was seen in the U.S. via Hulu and the Anime News Network. And most recently on Viz Media’s “Neon Alley”.

In Japan, a one-shot manga by Masakazu Katsura (“Video Girl Ai”, “DNA2”, “Zetman”) was published in “Weekly Shonen Jump” and in Sept. 2012, an animated film was released and a second film currently in production and planned for a fall 2013 release. Also, the anime series has led to a PSP video game released in Sept. 2012 and a second game released in March 2013 courtesy of Viz Media.

“Tiger & Bunny” takes place in NC1978 in the city of Sternbild City. 45 years prior, humans with supernatural abilities known as “NEXT” began appearing in the planet. And now, these people with special abilities and are superheroes sponsored by major corporations such as Pepsi, Softbank, Calbee, etc. and are featured on the popular reality TV show titled “Hero TV”.

Each season, these heroes try to achieve points by capturing/defeating criminals and the best ranked superhero will be crowned as “King of Heroes”. While each are competing with each other, often they work as a superhero team.

The series focuses on the partnership between two total opposites, the older hero Kotetsu (Wild Tiger) and the young star, Barnaby.  While both are popular on Hero TV, Kotetsu is a single father who feels it is his obligation to be a hero and protect the public, while his partner Barnaby is tormented by his parent’s murder and wanting justice.

The primary characters are of “Tiger & Bunny” are:

  • Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger – One of the main protagonist, he is one of the oldest superheros and unlike others, tends not to listen to orders as he is the “Crusher of Justice” and could care less about the ratings. Because he causes too much damage and likes to do things alone, he was forced to take on a new partner, Barnaby Brooks Jr. Kotetsu is also a single father who never gets to see his daughter because of his superhero obligations, so she lives with his mother. His daughter is unaware that he is a superhero. Tiger’s power is the ability to increase his physical abilities for five minutes using his “Hundred Power”. His sponsors are Bandai and Softbank.
  • Barnaby Brooks Jr./Bunny – A rookie that is called “Bunny” by Kotetsu. He is more about strategy and is not as rash as Kotetsu. He has a reason why he became a superhero and that is to find the one who killed his parents. His sponsors are Amazon Japan and Bandai. He also has similar powers to Kotetsu and becoming “King of Heroes” is important to him.
  • Karina Lyle/Blue Rose – A popular girl in high school who wants to be a singer. She has freezing power abilities and is sponsored by Pepsi Nex and Suntory. She represents Titan Industry.
  • Keith Goodman/Sky High – A popular hero and is the current “King of Heroes”. He is upbeat and has the power to control air current. He is sponsored by Tamashii Nations and Ustream and represents Poseidon Line.
  • Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem – An effeminate hero with flame abilities, Nathan wants to be part of the girls. He is sponsored by FMV and Animate and represents Helios Energy.
  • Huang Pao-Lin/Dragon Kid – A tomboy Chinese girl who has the power to generate electrical discharge. She lived in China with her parents but they wanted her to go to Sternbild City to become a hero. She is sonosred by Calbee and DMM.com and is represented by Odysseys Communication.
  • Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison – Kotetsu’s best friend since high school, his power is invulnerability. He is in last place of the Hero’s standings and is sponsored by Gyu-Kaku and represents Kronos Foods.
  • Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone – A young hero who is typically seen standing behind-the-scenes and not fighting, Ivan has the power to shapeshift and copy the appearance and voice of another. His sponsors are .ANIME and he represents Helperidese Finance.

VIDEO:

“Tiger & Bunny” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). “Tiger & Bunny” is probably one of the best, recent anime TV series that I have seen in awhile. From the detail of the futuristic structures, the costume design for the characters in superhero form, the mechanical design of vehicles and costumes and just the many location shots utilized for this anime series alone, these days, you don’t see too many anime studios going all out for a TV series, but in this case, Sunrise went all out with “Tiger & Bunny”.

Awesome character designs, background art is fantastic but just the character and mechanical designs featuring animation and CG is well-done. The character designs catches your attention with the colors and shading but the mechanical design and the superhero character designs look awesome. Even the art backgrounds as the futuristic city is well-painted, full of detail and adds to the overall look of the series.

“Tiger & Bunny” looks magnificent in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Tiger & Bunny” is presented in lossless English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Both are similar when it comes to special effects. Dialogue is crisp and clear but voice acting is well-done on both the Japanese and English soundtrack. While it would have been nice to have a 5.1 lossless track, especially since this series has plenty of action, the series does sound crisp and clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Tamura & Katsura Exclusive Interview – (13:44) Interview with Kazuhiko Tamura (Sunrise) and original character designer, Masakazu Katsura and how he came up with the design for each hero.
  • Production Art – Using your remote (or keyboard), you can look at the production art of “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Illustration Gallery – Using your remote (or keyboard), you can look at the illustration gallery of “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Japanese Trailers – (3:57) The Japanese trailers for “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Clean Opening and Clean Ending

Fantastic!  It’s the one word that I can describe the “Tiger & Bunny” series!

Earlier this year, a friend who attended Tokyo Anime Fair and Anime Contents Expo 2013, gave me a chance to see all the Tiger & Bunny cosplayers and some going so far to make the actual suits for Tiger and Bunny.   Even today, it’s hard for me to imagine that Masakazu Katsura, a mangaka and designer who I followed since “Video Girl Ai” and “DNA 2”, was behind the character designs of these heroes.

An anime series that manages to capture humor, action, drama with wonderful character designs, mechanical designs and art backgrounds, one can say that “Tiger & Bunny” is an animated series that is a total package.

From the first half of the anime series which goes into introducing us to each characters, the second half focuses on Kotetsu and Barnaby as partners but the trouble both face when Kotetsu begins to lose his powers (permanently) and Barnaby finds out that the person they battled and defeated, was not the person who killed his parents.

Suffice to say, both men are at their highest point as heroes but their lowest point as individuals.  For Kotetsu, quitting his job as a hero and focusing on spending more time with his daughter is important, but also his honor as a hero to protect and also be their for his partner is equally important.

As a person who enjoys anime, we have seen the team dynamic in many forms.

From the sentai teams of yesteryear, may it be “Gatchaman”, “Voltron” to super teams such as the Z-Warriors of “Dragon Ball Z”, the ninjas of “Naruto” or the high school friends as seen on “Bleach” and “Yu Yu Hakusho”.

But one thing that we often see in America through comic books, animated series and live action films are the superhero teams. May it be Marvel’s X-Men, The Avengers or Fantastic Four or DC’s Justice League of America, The Teen Titans or Legion of Super-Heroes and it has always been in the back of my mind, what if there was a caped superhero for an anime series?

We have seen a singular costumed heroes from anime series such as “Moldiver” and shows like the Kamen Rider or even Ranger series but what Sunrise was able to create with “Tiger & Bunny” is exciting, unique and different from anything ever featured in Japan.

Humans with special abilities known as NEXT who take on the bad guys, but in a twist, are featured on television and challenge other heroes of who can catch the most criminals and get the most points to increase their ranking, as each compete for the title “King of Heroes”.

The characters are nothing like American superheroes in the fact that these are individuals that are flawed.  The main protagonist Kotetsu is an older superhero who knows he is not a great father. He speaks to her on intercom but is never there to see her face-to-face and his daughter pretty much gave up on seeing him. He knows he causes trouble for the station because he causes quite a bit of damage and now, to help put him on the right path, he is given a partner with Barnaby.

And while Barnaby has a cool demeanor, a strategist who thinks first before attacking, he also has a tragic past that drives him to become a superhero and that is to find the killer responsible for killing his parents.

The two are joined by heroes that are interesting. Blue Rose is popular because of her sexy outfit and cute demeanor when fighting criminals but deep inside, she is torn between pursuing her dream to become a singer or being a hero. Dragon Kid is a tomboy and doesn’t like to wear cute things, but as she gets older, she is starting to discover her feminine side. Meanwhile, Fire Emblem is an effeminate hero who wants to be accepted by the girls, but yet is considered as a guy. Rock Bison is more interested in partying with Kotetsu and getting drunk than capturing criminals and now he is in danger of losing his job because he is in last place. And Origami Cyclone, a shy guy who has the power to shapeshift but feels it’s a worthless power and is more of a cheerleader than a person who does the fighting to capture the criminals.

Suffice to say, each of these characters are unlikely heroes but yet as a team, they are starting to work well with each other. But it takes time, and also, as much as they are a team when facing difficult criminals, they are also rivals trying to get the most points and representing their sponsors with pride.

“Tiger & Bunny” really is an anime series that is unlike anything I have seen before in my decades of watching anime.  And with this second half, the story becomes much more captivating, much better than the first half and I am definitely impressed with this series overall!

And as for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful. Sunrise is known for creating magnificent looking anime series but “Tiger & Bunny” features wonderful character and mechanical designs and a great balance between animation and CG. I was really impressed with how cool this series looks. And you get both Japanese and English soundtracks in lossless 2.0 and a few special features are included.

Overall, “Tiger & Bunny” was an awesome anime series when it first began and for its second half, it managed to become better and better with each episode!  I absolutely love this series and for anyone wanting a divergence from the banal anime series that they come across, and want something with a superhero angle but with humor, action and drama.

“Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 2” is highly recommended!

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Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Review)

February 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The first half of “Tiger & Bunny” has turned out to be a quite awesome.  A unique and original anime series that will entertain anime fans and one of the coolest looking group of superheroes ever featured in an anime series.  A fantastic anime series that I highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © SUNRISE/T&B Partners. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 1

YEAR: 2011

DURATION: 13 Episodes (310 Minutes))

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 19, 2013

Directed by Keiichi Satou

Series Composition by Masafumi Nishida

Music by Yoshihiro Ike

Original Character Design by Masakazu Katsura

Character Design by Kenji Hayama, Masaki Yamada

Art Direction by Kinichi Okubo

Mechanical Design by Kenji Andou

3D Director: Yoshikazu Kon

Anime Production: Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroaki Hirata/Wally Wingert as Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger

Masakazu Morita/Yuri Lowenthal as Barnaby Brooks Jr.

Go Inoue/Patrick Seitz as Keith Goodman/Sky High

Hiroshi Iwasaki/Dave Wittenberg as Doc Saito

Katsuhisa Houki/Beau Billingslea as Ben Jackson

Keiji Fujiwara/Steven Blum as Jake Martinez

Kenjiro Tsuda/John Eric Bentley as Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem

Koji Yusa/Liam O’Brien as Yuri Petrov/Lunatic

Mariya Ise/Laura Bailey as Pao-Lin Huang/Dragon Kid

Michiko Neya/Stephanie Sheh as Kriem

Minako Kotobuki/Kari Wahlgren as Karina Lyle/Blue Rose

Nobuaki Fukuda/Jamieson Price as Albert Maverick

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Michael Sinterniklaas as Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone

Rina Hidaka/Een Riegel as Kaede Kaburagi

Taiten Kusunoki/Travis Willingham as Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison

Wataru Yokojima/Daran Norris as Alexander Lloyds

Yuko Kaida/Tara Platt as Agnes Joubert

Stern Bild City is a thriving metropolis where superheroes called NEXTs protect the streets, sponsors pull the strings, and a hugely popular show called Hero TV captures all of it. Veteran hero Kotetsu Kaburagi (AKA Wild Tiger) and hotheaded new hero Barnaby Brooks, Jr. (nicknamed Bunny by his friends) are forced to team up not only to protect Stern Bild City, but to earn as many points on Hero TV as possible. Joined by a diverse cast of heroes, all with different powers and answering to their own corporate sponsors, Tiger and Bunny must find a way to work together, uncover the secret of the Ouroboros, and earn enough points to become this year’s King of Heroes.

In 2011, the anime studio Sunrise, best known for its anime series for “Mobile Suit Gundam”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Dirty Pair”, “City Hunter” to name a few, went on to work on anime series that would captivate older viewers but also something unique and different for anime fans.

And the 25- episode TV series “Tiger & Bunny” was created.

Directed by Keiichi Satou (“Saint Seiya the Movie”, “Karas”, “Asura”), a screenplay by Masafumi Nishida, music by Yoshihiro Ike (“Asura”, “Cobra: The Animation”, “Dead Leaves”), character designs by Kenji Hayama (“Baccano!”, “The Big O”, “Casshern Sins”, “Getter Robo: Armageddon”) and Masaki Yamada (“Ergo Proxy”, “Appleseed”, “Great Dangaioh”), background art by Kinichi Okubo (“Ex-Driver”, “Honey and Clover”, “Angel Beats!”), mechanical design by Kenji Andou (“Origini ~Spirits of the Past~”, “Votoms Finder”), Yoshikazu Kon (“Gurren Lagann”, “Shangri-La”, “Mobil Suit Gundam 00”).

The series aired in Japan on April 2011 and also was seen in the U.S. via Hulu and the Anime News Network.  And most recently on Viz Media’s “Neon Alley”.

In Japan, a one-shot manga by Masakazu Katsura (“Video Girl Ai”, “DNA2”, “Zetman”) was published in “Weekly Shonen Jump” and in Sept. 2012, an animated film was released and a second film currently in production and planned for a fall 2013 release.  Also, the anime series has led to a PSP video game  released in Sept. 2012 and a second game planned for a March 2013 released.

And in the U.S., the first volume featuring the first 13 episodes of “Tiger & Bunny” will be released on Blu-ray in Feb. 2013 courtesy of Viz Media.

“Tiger & Bunny” takes place in NC1978 in the city of Sternbild City.  45 years prior, humans with supernatural abilities known as “NEXT” began appearing in the planet.  And now, these people with special abilities and are superheroes sponsored by major corporations such as Pepsi, Softbank, Calbee, etc. and are featured on the popular reality TV show titled “Hero TV”.

Each season, these heroes try to achieve points by capturing/defeating criminals and the best ranked superhero will be crowned as “King of Heroes”.  While each are competing with each other, often they work as a superhero team.

The primary characters are of “Tiger & Bunny” are:

  • Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger – One of the main protagonist, he is one of the oldest superheros and unlike others, tends not to listen to orders as he is the “Crusher of Justice” and could care less about the ratings.  Because he causes too much damage and likes to do things alone, he was forced to take on a new partner, Barnaby Brooks Jr.  Kotetsu is also a single father who never gets to see his daughter because of his superhero obligations, so she lives with his mother.  His daughter is unaware that he is a superhero.  Tiger’s power is the ability to increase his physical abilities for five minutes using his “Hundred Power”.    His sponsors are Bandai and Softbank.
  • Barnaby Brooks Jr./Bunny – A rookie that is called “Bunny” by Kotetsu.  He is more about strategy and is not as rash as Kotetsu.  He has a reason why he became a superhero and that is to find the one who killed his parents.  His sponsors are Amazon Japan and Bandai.  He also has similar powers to Kotetsu and becoming “King of Heroes” is important to him.
  • Karina Lyle/Blue Rose – A popular girl in high school who wants to be a singer.  She has freezing power abilities and is sponsored by Pepsi Nex and Suntory.  She represents Titan Industry.
  • Keith Goodman/Sky High – A popular hero and is the current “King of Heroes”.  He is upbeat and has the power to control air current.  He is sponsored by Tamashii Nations and Ustream and represents Poseidon Line.
  • Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem – An effeminate hero with flame abilities, Nathan wants to be part of the girls.  He is sponsored by FMV and Animate and represents Helios Energy.
  • Huang Pao-Lin/Dragon Kid – A tomboy Chinese girl who has the power to generate electrical discharge.  She lived in China with her parents but they wanted her to go to Sternbild City to become a hero.  She is sonosred by Calbee and DMM.com and is represented by Odysseys Communication.
  • Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison  – Kotetsu’s best friend since high school, his power is invulnerability.  He is in last place of the Hero’s standings and is sponsored by Gyu-Kaku and represents Kronos Foods.
  • Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone – A young hero who is typically seen standing behind-the-scenes and not fighting, Ivan has the power to shapeshift and copy  the appearance and voice of another.  His sponsors are .ANIME and he represents Helperidese Finance.

As the heroes fight and take on various criminals, they must also deal with a vigilante NEXT named Lunatic and doesn’t believe in incarceration but killing criminals.  Meanwhile, as the team try to work together and continue to build their hero’s points and ranking, The Ouroboros criminal organization is planning to have the sadistic Jake Martinez released from prison.  Jake is responsible for killing Barnaby’s parents and has been sentenced to 250 years in prison.  But one of the reasons why he is a criminal that the govt. wants to keep behind bars is because of his mysterious power.

 

Here is a brief synopsis of “Tiger and Bunny: Blu-ray set 1”:

  • EPISODE 1 –  Introduction to the NEXT who are competing in this season’s “Hero TV” network and a new hero named Barnaby joins in the action!
  • EPISODE 2 – A giant stone statue is trying to cause mayhem in the city, meanwhile Tiger and Barnaby try to be partners.
  • EPISODE 3 – Hero TV is doing a documentary on Barnaby and Kotetsu is a bit jealous.
  • EPISODE 4 – Blue Rose struggles with being a hero or pursuing her dream of becoming a singer.
  • EPISODE 5 – Barnaby is upset with Tiger (Kotetsu) for causing so much collateral damage, meanwhile Kotetsu misreads Bunny’s frustrations and tries to organize a surprise birthday party for him.
  • EPISODE 6 – Someone with the power of the blue flame is killing criminals.
  • EPISODE 7 – Barnaby tells Kotetsu and Nathan about the Ouroboros syndicate and how he wants revenge for the death of his parents.
  • EPISODE 8 – Tiger, Barnaby and Origami Cyclone take part in a PR campaign, but unaware that the vigilante named Lunatic is nearby.
  • EPISODE 9 – The heroes must take care of the Mayor’s baby but they leave the baby with Dragon Kid, who gets kidnapped along with the baby.  Now the NEXT heroes must find them.
  • EPISODE 10 – Kotetsu is put on paid vacation and plans to visit his daughter but the Ouroboros Syndicate plan their attempt to have Jake Martinez released from prison.  Meanwhile, Barnaby finds out that Jake Martinez is responsible for his parent’s death.
  • EPISODE 11 – The NEXT hero’s takes on Jake Martinez.
  • EPISODE 12 – Tiger vs. Jake Martinez
  • EPISODE 13 – With many of the NEXT heroes injured in battle, Barnaby takes on Jake Martinez.

VIDEO:

“Tiger & Bunny” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio).  “Tiger & Bunny” is probably one of the best, recent anime TV series that I have seen in awhile. From the detail of the futuristic structures, the costume design for the characters in superhero form, the mechanical design of vehicles and costumes and just the many location shots utilized for this anime series alone, these days, you don’t see too many anime studios going all out for a TV series, but in this case, Sunrise went all out with “Tiger & Bunny”.

Awesome character designs, background art is fantastic but just the character and mechanical designs featuring animation and CG is well-done.  The character designs catches your attention with the colors and shading but the mechanical design and the superhero character designs look awesome.  Even the art backgrounds as the futuristic city is well-painted, full of detail and adds to the overall look of the series.

“Tiger & Bunny” looks magnificent in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Tiger & Bunny” is presented in lossless English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  Both are similar when it comes to special effects.  Dialogue is crisp and clear but voice acting is well-done on both the Japanese and English soundtrack.  While it would have been nice to have a 5.1 lossless track, especially since this series has plenty of action, the series does sound crisp and clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 1” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Tiger & Bunny– (24:01) The challenges from the Japanese crew at Sunrise in creating a new anime series that would appeal to manga fans, longtime anime fans and trying to come up with a series that is fresh and new.  In Japanese with English subtitles.
  • Production Art – Using your remote (or keyboard), you can look at the production art of “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Special Logo Art – Using your remote (or keyboard), you can look at the special logo art of “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Japanese Trailers – (4:12) The Japanese trailers for “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Clean Opening and Clean Ending

As a person who enjoys anime, we have seen the team dynamic in many forms.

From the sentai teams of yesteryear, may it be “Gatchaman”, “Voltron” to super teams such as the Z-Warriors of “Dragon Ball Z”, the ninjas of “Naruto” or the high school friends as seen on “Bleach” and “Yu Yu Hakusho”.

But one thing that we often see in America through comic books, animated series and live action films are the superhero teams. May it be Marvel’s X-Men, The Avengers or Fantastic Four or DC’s Justice League of America, The Teen Titans or Legion of Super-Heroes and it has always been in the back of my mind, what if there was a caped superhero for an anime series?

We have seen a singular costumed heroes from anime series such as “Moldiver” and shows like the Kamen Rider or even Ranger series but what Sunrise was able to create with “Tiger & Bunny” is exciting, unique and different from anything ever featured in Japan.

Humans with special abilities known as NEXT who take on the bad guys, but in a twist, are featured on television and challenge other heroes of who can catch the most criminals and get the most points to increase their ranking, as each compete for the title “King of Heroes”.

The characters are nothing like American superheroes in the fact that these are individuals that are flawed.

The main protagonist Kotetsu is an older superhero who knows he is not a great father.  He speaks to her on intercom but is never there to see her face-to-face and his daughter pretty much gave up on seeing him.  He knows he causes trouble for the station because he causes quite a bit of damage and now, to help put him on the right path, he is given a partner with Barnaby.

And while Barnaby has a cool demeanor, a strategist who thinks first before attacking, he also has a tragic past that drives him to become a superhero and that is to find the killer responsible for killing his parents.

The two are joined by heroes that are interesting.   Blue Rose is popular because of her sexy outfit and cute demeanor when fighting criminals but deep inside, she is torn between pursuing her dream to become a singer or being a hero.  Dragon Kid is a tomboy and doesn’t like to wear cute things, but as she gets older, she is starting to discover her feminine side.  Meanwhile, Fire Emblem is an effeminate hero who wants to be accepted by the girls, but yet is considered as a guy.   Rock Bison is more interested in partying with Kotetsu and getting drunk than capturing criminals and now he is in danger of losing his job because he is in last place.  And Origami Cyclone, a shy guy who has the power to shapeshift but feels it’s a worthless power and is more of a cheerleader than a person who does the fighting to capture the criminals.

Suffice to say, each of these characters are unlikely heroes but yet as a team, they are starting to work well with each other.  But it takes time, and also, as much as they are a team when facing difficult criminals, they are also rivals trying to get the most points and representing their sponsors with pride.

“Tiger & Bunny” really is an anime series that is unlike anything I have seen before in my decades of watching anime.

And as for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful.  Sunrise is known for creating magnificent looking anime series but “Tiger & Bunny” features wonderful character and mechanical designs and a great balance between animation and CG.  I was really impressed with how cool this series looks.  And you get both Japanese and English soundtracks in lossless 2.0 and a few special features are included.

Overall, the first half of “Tiger & Bunny” has turned out to be a quite awesome.  A unique and original anime series that will entertain anime fans and one of the coolest looking group of superheroes ever featured in an anime series.  A fantastic anime series that I highly recommended!

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