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Dragon Ball Super – Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan that “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series.  And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”.  I definitely recommend this anime series!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation.  All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragon Ball Super – Part 2

DURATION: (Episodes 14-26) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: October 3, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Kimitoshi Chioka

Script by Atsuhiro Tomioka

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Character Design by Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Art Design by Shinzo Yuki

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Brad Jackson as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Ayano Hirano/Justin Cook as Dende

Eiji Hanawa as Jiren

Eiko Yamada/Carmen Smith as Mai

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Beerus 

Kozo Shioya as Majin Buu

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Whis

Miki Itou as Cyborg #18

Mitsuo Iwata as Champa

Takeshi Kusao/Alexis Tipton as Trunks


After reaching an alliance with Beerus, the world is at peace once again. But one of the Z Fighters is feeling restless—namely, Vegeta! The Saiyan prince seeks a new way to become stronger and wants to do so under Whis’ guidance. When Goku finds out they’ve left to train, he’s just as eager to join in.

While two of the strongest fighters train in another world, trouble stirs for planet Earth. The remains of a powerful force have started to gather, seeking revenge for their fallen leader—the wicked overlord Frieza! When evil takes on a new form with the force of 1,000 troops, can Gohan and the remaining Z Fighters take him on? Or will Frieza’s vengeance finally see the light of day?


With the completion of the hugely popular anime series “Dragon Ball Z”, while a new story was created titled “Dragon Ball GT” (1996-1997) and not based on Akira Toriyama’s previous work, Toriyama would return to create an overall plot outline for a new series titled “Dragon Ball Super” produced by Toei Animation.

The series is considered as the true sequel to “Dragon Ball Z” and would take place four years after the DBZ storyline.

The series began airing in July 2015 and as of October 2017, a total of 113 episodes (five seasons) have aired.  The first season is 14 episodes long (known as the “God of Destruction Beerus” Arc) and Funimation had released “Dragon Ball Super” Part 1 featuring episodes 1-13 on Bl-ray and DVD.

And now, part 2 (featuring episodes 14-26) which includes the season one finale and the majority of all episodes from season two (known as the Golden Frieza arc).

In season one of “Dragon Ball Super”, Son Goku had defeated Majin Buu and Beerus, the God of Destruction has awakened and wanting to battle a worthy opponent, he chooses Earth and if the hero loses, he will destroy the planet.  Son Goku is chosen to defend Earth.

Son Goku has since learned to transfom with the help of the Saiyans and Videl to become Super Saiyan God Goku but is this power enough to fight the strongest opponent in the universe?

In season two, Vegeta undergoes training from Whis, Gohan and wife Videl welcome a new baby named Pan, Sorbet and Tagoma are searching for the Dragon Balls in order to resurrect their leader, Frieza.

And with Frieza resurrected, he plans for his revenge against Goku and Future Trunks and this time, to show him his transformation to Golden Frieza.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Super – Part 2” (episodes 14-26) on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 14 –  The conclusion of the battle between Son Goku vs. Beerus.
  • EPISODE 15  – Aliens come to Earth and want their champion to fight against Mr. Satan.
  • EPISODE 16 – Krillin wants to start training again and Whis trains Vegeta.
  • EPISODE 17  – The birth of Pan
  • EPISODE 18 – Goku and Whis arrive on Beerus planet to see how far Vegeta is with his training.
  • EPISODE 19 – Sorbet and Tagoma look for the Dragon Balls to revive Frieza.
  • EPISODE 20 – Frieza has been revived and wants revenge against Goku and Future Trunks.
  • EPISODE 21  – With Goku and Vegeta in Beerus’ planet, they are unaware that their friends and family are taking on Frieza’s soldiers.
  • EPISODE 22 – The fight between Piccolo, Gohan, Gotenks vs. Frieza’s soldiers.  Someone dies!

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 23 – Bulma is able to communicate to Whis of what is happening on Earth and Frieza’s resurrection and Goku and Vegeta try to get to Earth as soon as possible.
  • EPISODE 24  – Goku vs. Frieza
  • EPISODE 25 – Frieza shows his transformation, Golden Frieza
  • EPISODE 26 – The fight between Frieza and Goku continues!

VIDEO:

“Dragon Ball Super” is created in 1080p High Definition (16×9 HD Native).  The episodes are colorful and absolutely vibrant.  Great detail with character designs and wonderful animation for fight scenes.  I saw no major softness, banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dragon Ball Super” features a wonderful soundtrack on Blu-ray. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).  Featuring the return of the original Dragon Ball Japanese and also English voice dub talent, the quality of the series voice acting continues with this newer series.

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Super – Part 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Watching Dragon Ball Super with Jason Douglas and Ian Sinclair – (12:02) Jason Douglas (voice of Beerus) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Whis) and hanging out at Brina Palencia’s apartment to watch “Dragon Ball Super”.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Super” Part 2 comes with the Blu-ray and DVD of episodes 14-26.


I grew up watching “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” (as well as “Dragon Ball GT”) and at the time, I was a college student watching these episodes in straight Japanese until over a decade later, they were released on DVD and eventually on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

I played the Japanese video games and always purchased the Japanese animation magazines every month back when Tower Records existed in the US.

So growing up with the anime series and now as an adult with a teenage child who watches “Dragon Ball”, it’s a bit of a surreal feeling that the storyline of Goku and friends are continuing for a new generation of anime fans but also entertaining both young and old.

A series taking place not long after Goku defeated Majin Buu, I liked how the new anime series are now more condensed in storyline arcs.  Where battles would last for months (many, many episodes long), I liked how there were only 14 seasons in season one and completed the fight between Goku vs. Beerus and I think any fan couldn’t help but be happy to see Goku’s powers evolve.

And with this part 2, we get the conclusion of season one.  But here we are with season two and with this storyline, we get a lot of humor as Chi-Chi is adamant of Goku not fighting, an alien race coming to Earth to challenge Mr. Satan and also Krillin and Gohan getting an itch to wanting to fight and get in battle again.  And as the storyline of Goku and Vegeta wanting to get stronger are part of these main episodes, the surprise is Frieza’s soldiers finding the Dragon Balls to bring his body back and Frieza then showing everyone his latest transformation to Golden Frieza.

And it’s no surprise to me, as I remember when the Frieza arc was taking place for “Dragon Ball Z”, his character was among the most popular in Japanese polls at the time and it was no surprise that we see the character back again and proving to be deadly (as another character dies) and difficult to take down.

While nearly all episodes of season two are featured (the conclusion is episode 27, which will be in part 3), this is no doubt a fun and action-packed collection of episodes and I’m glad that Funimation is releasing these regularly and hopefully we’ll get caught up with the Japanese releases (unlike “One Piece” which Funimation is still hundreds of episodes behind).

I love the fact that Toei Animation was consistent in bringing the original voice talent back and Funimation following the same practice with their English dub voice actors.  Both soundtracks are well-acted and on Blu-ray, the anime series is vibrant and colorful in HD while the lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and sound effects (much better on the English soundtrack thanks to the 5.1 lossless soundtrack).

I also love how Funimation is coming up with newer kind of special features showcasing their English dub actors. In this case, it’s interesting to see a video featurette with Ian Sinclair, Jason Douglas and his three children to watch “Dragon Ball Super” at Brina Palencia’s apartment.  That was something new and different but major props as this idea was very cool and hope to see more like it from Funimation!

Overall, it’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan that “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series.  And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”.  I definitely recommend this anime series!

Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Great Martial Arts World Tournament, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray. Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two

DURATION: (Episodes 122-144) 575 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: May 23, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unsho Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Shino Kakinuma/Kara Edwards as Videl

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Goten


As Goku and Vegeta land blow after blow in their brutal duel, an enormous amount of energy is transferred to Majin Buu. And despite Gohan’s valiant efforts, the monster reaches full power faster than anyone could have predicted. With the ancient evil awakened and free to wreak havoc across the planet, the Z Fighters must give everything they’ve got to put Buu back to bed for good.


The exciting action-packed anime series “Dragon Ball Z” is back with the final HD version of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” (volume eight) as a new major threat has arrived…Majin Buu.

Unbeknownst to the Z-Warriors is that an evil Warlock named Babidi and the evil Demon King Dabura are trying to unseal a monster named Majin Buu. Meanwhile, Kaoishin, the ruler of the Kaios of the Other World and his bodyguard Kibit have come to Earth in order to recruit the Z-Warriors to fight Majin Buu and Babidi.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 97 episodes (plus a bonus 98th episode or extra which was included in the Japanese release).

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the previous volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has the full series of “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” available on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai”. But watching it completely is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

As mentioned, currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

FUNimation Entertainment have also released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (all eight volumes of “Dragon Box Z” have been released). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which follows the Z-Warriors ten years later and focuses on Goku, an adult Trunks and Goku’s granddaughter Pai. This series was released on DVD in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2017 with the release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” + the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 167 episodes and with this latest volume, you have episodes 122-144.

The focus for these episodes is the Majin Buu Arc.  The series features:

Goku – Now an adult, married to Chichi and has a son named Gohan. Constantly training in order to become stronger. Still naive and hungry as he was when he was younger. Currently, he is deceased and using his time to train before returning back to the land of the living.

Gohan – Goku’s young son. Goku realizes that Gohan has strong potential but during an unfortunate incident, asks for Piccolo to train his son in fighting to protect people and the planet. Gohan has accompanied Bulma and Kuririn to find the Dragon Balls in the Planet Nemek.

Kuririn – Goku’s childhood friend who accompanies Gohan and Bulma to find the Dragon Balls in the Planet Nemek.

Bulma – A woman still developing products at her father’s company, Capsule Corp. and uses her intelligence to solve the Z Warriors under dire circumstances. With her Dragon Ball scanner, she joins Gohan and Kuririn to find the Dragon Balls in Planet Nemek.

Kaiosama – One of the Kings who trains Goku on how to fight with gravity ten times greater than Earth at Kaio’s world.

Vegeta – The Prince of Saiyan and the most powerful Saiyajin of them all. Comes to Earth in order to destroy it but after being defeated by Goku, rehabilitates himself and now finds himself fighting alongside Gohan and Kuririn.

Trunks – The young son of Bulma and Vegeta who hangs out with Goten

Goten – The second son of Goku and Chichi and hangs out with Trunks.

Kaioshin – The ruler of the Kaios of the Other World, Kaioshin has taken over the position after the previous Kaoshin was killed by the warlock Babidi.  He has come to the Earth realm to recruit the Z-Warriors to fight against Babidi and Majin Buu.

Kibit – The loyal bodyguard of Kaioshin.

The main antagonists are:

Babidi – The evil warlock trying to release the seal and revive Majin Buu that was created by Babidi’s father, Bibidi.

Dabura – The Demon King who is assisting Babidi in trying to unseal Majin Buu.

Majin Buu – Created by Bibidi, Buu was created to destroy worlds and was sealed away by the former Kaoshin, until he was released once again by Babidi.  But is this the same Majin Buu who is known as the destroyer of worlds?


VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. Obviously, the more noticeable uses of the surround channels are the music and whenever the Z Warriors are in flight. But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is awesome!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 131 Video Commentary – (23:11) ADR writer J. Michael Tatum, Kara Edwards (voice of Goten and Bidel), Rolly Pickens (chief engineer), Kent Williams, Duncan Brannan, Monica Rial (voice of Bulma)
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” Part Two comes with a slipcover case.


Here we are with the next volume of “Dragon Box Z Kai: The Final Chapters” which continues the final chapter of the “Dragon Ball Z” series, which I like to call the “Majin Buu Arc”.

What can I say… if you thought the Frieza and Cell sagas were fantastic villains, the Majin Buu saga and where it will go from here is quite amazing. Personally, having grown up with the series and watching the Buu series when it aired in Japan, I was hooked and it’s so great to watch it again!

No villain in “Dragon Ball Z” has looked as cute and nonthreatening as Majin Buu but yet has managed to slaughter a millions of people and really put the Z-Warriors in a position that they have never been in before.

The high points of this season is the fact that you get a long awaited battle between Goku vs. Vegeta, you get the Super Saiyan level 3 transformation of Goku but then we get to see the fusion technique.

Each episode has a very good storyline that it’s quite easy to watch episode after episode and find yourself watching a marathon of multiple discs because the episodes were quite enjoyable and action-packed. I also, have to say that there are no filler episodes and each episode, you’re going to get hardcore battles and just non-stop action. It’s what you would expect from a series such as “Dragon Ball Z” and nothing less.

Vegeta fans will definitely enjoy his character transformation but most of all his redemption. The first half is very Vegeta intensive and in Japan, many people wanted more of him and they got it. So, to see a powerful Vegeta going against Goku was awesome.

The series manages to weave in every character close to the Z-warriors that we have known from the series in this eighth season, which is very cool. And also, for Hercule/Mr. Satan fans, you will actually get to see him in action as well.

But it’s the instability of Majin Buu’s character which is quite interesting. Because of the way this being is made, unlike Frieza and Cell, the ability to continually regenerate, makes him nearly an unstoppable character. His look and demeanor is nothing like we have seen in the first 200-episodes and to see him kill people for the sake of hunger or for enjoyment to hear things go “boom”, makes Majin Buu an interesting but moreso, a deadlier villain than any villain that has appeared on “Dragon Ball Z” thus far.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was expensive to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then. But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” and the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series if you love “Dragon Ball Z” or wanting to watch “Dragon Ball Z” but just don’t have the time necessary to watch every episode. Also, it helps that the series is now on Blu-ray, so people can enjoy these episodes in HD.

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Majin Buu Arc, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray. Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans. With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Ao Jumonji,  OVERLAP/Grimgar. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 12 Episodes (335 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Ao Jumonji

Directed by Ryosuke Nakamura

Script by Ryosuke Nakamura

Music by R.O.N.

Original Character Design by Eiri Shirai

Character Design by Mieko Hosoi

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko

Chief Animation Director: Mieko Hosoi

Animation Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ricco Fajardo as Haruhiro

Chika Anzai/Jad Saxton as Mary

Daisuke Namikawa/Todd Haberkorn as Kikkawa

Fukushi Ochiai/Jarrod Greene as Moguzo

Haruka Terui/Sarah Wiedenheft as Shihoru

Hiroki Yasumoto/Mike McFarland as Brittany

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Orion Pitts as Ranta

Mamiko Noto/Jamie Marchi as Barbara

Mikako Komatsu/Jeannie Tirado as Yume

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Justin Briner as Manato

Tomokazu Seki/Jason Liebrecht as Renji



Back in 2013, writer Ao Jumonji and illustrator Eiri Shirai collaborated on a Japanese light novel series titled “Hai to Genso ni Gurimugaru” (“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”).  With a total of nine novels created, a manga adaptation by Mutsumi Okubashi was serialized in “Gangan Joker” in 2015.

Due to the popularity of the series, a 12-episode anime series produced by A-1 Pictures aired in Japan from January through March 2016 and an OVA followed afterward.

The series is directed and written by Ryosuke Nakamura (“Aiura”, “Nana”, “Psychic School Wars”, “Moryo no Hako”), music by R.O.N. (“Aquarion Logos”, “Solty Rei”, “Unlimited Fafnir”), character design by Mieko Hosoi (“Aiura”, “Aoi Bungaku”) and art direction by Hidetoshi Kaneko (“”Devil Hunter Yohko”, “Chance Pop Session”, Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals”, “Jubei-Chan the Ninja Girl”, “Mermaid’s Scar”, “X”).

And now the “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is available on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The story follows a young man named Haruhiro and several people who awaken in a fantasy world and remember nothing but their own names.  They all find out that they must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and must support themselves to survive and that is by killing goblins to earn money.  As many of the strong join groups, Haruhiro and others were not chosen and so they form their own group.

As Haruhiro and his friends become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers, they must join forces to survive and train and use their skills to defeat goblins.

The primary characters in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” are:

  • Haruhiro – A softspoken person who is level-headed and becomes the group’s thief.
  • Yume – She is brave and is the hunter of the group.   She often tries to protect Shihoru and is att odds with Ranta.
  • Shihoru – The shy member of the group. She is a mage.
  • Ranta – The Dark Knight of the group.  He is perverted and outspoken and tends to cause trouble with the group because of his rash decisions.
  • Manato – The teams priest (healer) and the group leader.  A strategist that sees the positive in each member of the group.
  • Moguzo – The tallest and heaviest member of the group and the team’s warrior.  Loves cooking.
  • Mary – A priest (healer) who became colder due to the death of her friends.
  • Renji – Arried the same time Haruhiro and others but has graduated from being a trainee quickly.

VIDEO:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in 1080p High Definition and A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with this series.  The backgrounds are nicely painted and look like it was painted with watercolors.  Meanwhile, characters are well shaded and colors are vibrant.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Dialogue and music including environment and ambiance are well-utilized throughout the surround channels for the lossless English dub soundtrack.  Both soundtracks are well-acted but in terms of channel utilization, with the English lossless soundtrack receiving a 5.1 treatment, that soundtrack has an edge.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the following special features:

  • OVA 2.5 – Staking Our Youths on the Bath Wall – One More Centimeter
  • Episode 04 Video Commentary – Featuring Funimation staff Godswill (social media coordinator), Casey (promo video) and Ian (senior graphic designer)
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


For those who play video games, I’m sure the gamer had once thought, “what if we were in our own video game?”.

It’s something I know my RPG-loving friends have joked about and while we have seen anime where characters’s avatars or consciousness were trapped in a video game (ala “.Hack” or “Sword Art Online”) but what if people were transported into a fantasy world where they fought in classes like an RPG video game?

This is somewhat of the idea in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”.  Numerous people transported to a fantasy world and they have no choice but to fight or die.

Fighting is the only option for one to make money, buy food or purchase things and to do that, you must become a soldier.  And for these new people who have arrived, they immediately must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and join up in guilds.  Train and learn new skills and fight goblins who will do all they can to kill you.

The anime series focuses on a group of people who were not selected to join a major guild, so they join forces and become their own group.  And as they become friends and try to learn how to use their skills to fight goblins, they don’t know how bad the dangers are until one of their own is killed.

And now they must find a way to continue on, grow as a team and protect each other.

Featuring beautiful animation and beautifully painted backgrounds courtesy of A-1 Pictures, the anime series looks vibrant and gorgeous on Blu-ray.  The lossless soundtrack for both English and Japanese soundtracks are fantastic but the English soundtrack gets an edge as it was made into a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, while the Japanese version is a stereo lossless soundtrack.

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” come with an OVA and an episode 4 video commentary by the English dub talent.

Overall, “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans.  With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of.

Recommended!

Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Great Martial Arts World Tournament, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray.  Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One

DURATION: (Episodes 99-121) 575 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: April 25, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unsho Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Shino Kakinuma/Kara Edwards as Videl

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Goten


Seven years have passed since Cell’s defeat, and the Z Fighters have returned to normal life. Goku has continued his training in the Other World, Krillin has gotten married, and Gohan has his hands full attempting to navigate the pitfalls of high school. But with the new World Martial Arts Tournament about to begin, it’s time for Goku and the Z Fighters to reunite and face off against the greatest warriors on Earth!

Meanwhile, the evil wizard Babidi has traveled across the galaxy on a quest for revenge, hoping to fulfill his father’s thwarted dreams of universal domination. The Supreme Kai has come to enlist the aid of the Z Fighters in his effort to prevent Babidi from awakening a monster of unimaginable terror—Majin Buu!


The exciting action-packed anime series “Dragon Ball Z” is back with the final HD version of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” (volume seven) as the safety of the world rests on the shoulders of young Gohan, as he takes on the evil Perfect Cell.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 97 episodes (plus a bonus 98th episode or extra which was included in the Japanese release).

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the previous volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has the full series of “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” available on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai”. But watching it completely is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

As mentioned, currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

FUNimation Entertainment have also released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (all eight volumes of “Dragon Box Z” have been released). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which follows the Z-Warriors ten years later and focuses on Goku, an adult Trunks and Goku’s granddaughter Pai. This series was released on DVD in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2017 with the release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” + the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 167 episodes and with this latest volume, you have episodes 99-121.

The focus for these episodes is the arc known as “World Tournament Saga” and takes place seven years since the battle with Cell.

Gohan is now a teenager and will be attending public high school for the first time.  As expected, with his strict mother Chi Chi, Gohan becomes a straight A student.  But you also learn that he has a seven year old brother named Goten.

As Gohan enters high school in Satan City (named after Mr. Satan because of his lie that he is the one that defeated Cell), he sees that there is trouble in the city with bank robbers and so forth, so with the help of Bulma, creates a costume for him and thus Gohan goes under the secret identity of Great Saiyaman.

In high school, he meets Bedil (Mr. Satan’s daughter) who is a powerful fighter and helps the police force take on the criminals.  Eventually, she catches on to Gohan’s identity and demands Gohan to teach her how to fly or else, she will reveal his secret identity.

I have to admit that when I first watched these episodes (when it was first released in Japan), I absolutely loved the chemistry between Gohan and Bedil.  So, it was great to see how the two fighters get close to each other and it’s almost similar to how Goku and Chi Chi became boyfriend and girlfriend (and eventually husband and wife).

For the third arc, a new World Martial Arts Tournament is happening and the Z-Fighters intend to take part.  Also, Goku has been granted a 24-hour stay in Planet Earth to take part in the tournament.  The first part of this third arc features the junior division in which Son Goten and Trunks enter the tournament.  The second part features the main division which the Z-Fighters (Goku, Vegita, Piccolo, Krillin, No. 18, Gohan, Android 18 and Trunks/Goten in disguise) are taking part in.   But introduces two mysterious characters named Shin and Kibito which somehow scares Piccolo for some unknown reason.

And then there are other fighters who seem to have superhuman power levels and along with the two mysterious characters, the Z-Fighters must find out who they are and what is their scheme.


VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. Obviously, the more noticeable uses of the surround channels are the music and whenever the Z Warriors are in flight. But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is awesome!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 112 Video Commentary – (23:11) ADR writer J. Michael Tatum, Kara Edwards (voice of Goten and Bidel), Andrew T. Chandler (voice of Spopovich), voice of Kyle Ebert (voice of Gohan).
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” Part One comes with a slipcover case.


With the release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters Part One”, I really enjoyed the Great Saiyaman arc.  We watched little Gohan grow up and now he is a teenager and although he doesn’t know it yet, he has met someone he cares about and willing to help her no matter what.  The chemistry between Gohan and Bedil is just awesome and episodes just focusing on these two were just great.

Also, episodes featuring Goten and Trunks and seeing these two go against each other in the Junior Division of the World Tournament was fun to watch.

And of course, to see how everyone has changed.  Especially Krillin who is now married to Android 18 and both have a daughter.  Heck, Krillin now has hair!

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series later episodes finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.

“Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters ” part one is primarily the tournament battle, this time, the little ones, Goten and Trunks get in the action.  Of course, these episodes are a nice diversion before going full force with the Majin Buu arc that comes afterward.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” replace my feelings towards the original series? Of course not. But I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long. We would literally have to wait weeks as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and each VHS tape in bad quality would contain maybe two to four episodes. And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was expensive to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then. But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” and the previous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series if you love “Dragon Ball Z” or wanting to watch “Dragon Ball Z” but just don’t have the time necessary to watch every episode. Also, it helps that the series is now on Blu-ray, so people can enjoy these episodes in HD.

Exciting, action-packed showcasing the Great Martial Arts World Tournament, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters” on Blu-ray.  Recommended for the die-hard DBZ fans!

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

November 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

dbz-resurresction

“Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” manages to maintain the “Dragon Ball Z” animated film via popcorn action consistency. With a story focused on all-out action and the usual comedy, featuring the return of the Z Warriors taking on a more powerful Frieza, “Dragon Ball Z” fans will be no doubt be excited for this animated film! If you are a DBZ fan, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © BIRD STUDIO/SHUEISHA, 2015 Dragon Ball Z the movie production committee. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’

DURATION: 95 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: October 20, 2015


Original Creator/Character Design by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Tadashi Yamamuro

Screenplay by Akira Toriyama 

Chief Animation Director: Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Art Direction by Shinzo Yuki

Anime Production by TOEI ANIMATION


Voice by:

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Ryusei Nakao/Chris Ayres as Frieza

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Ten Shin Han

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Beerus

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-Sen’nin/Master Roshi

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Whis

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Gohan

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin

Natsuki Hanae/Todd Haberkorn as Jaco

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Shiro Saito/Jeremy Schwartz as Sorbet

Toshio Furukawa/Chris Sabat as Piccolo


Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is the second Dragon Ball film personally supervised by the series creator Akira Toriyama, following Battle of Gods. The new movie showcases the return of Frieza – one of the anime world’s greatest villains. Frieza has been resurrected and plans to take his revenge on the Z-Fighters of Earth. Goku and Vegeta must reach new levels of power in order to protect Earth from their vengeful nemesis.


As the worldwide popularity of “Dragon Ball Z” continues, a 15th film was released in 2015 titled “Dragon Ball Z: Fukkatsu no F” (“Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection “F”).

The animated film did very well in Japan as it took #1 in the Japanese box office earning over $8.1 million (US) and also did very well internationally.  In the US, the film was the first Japanese film to be screened in IMAX 3D and was also screened in Japan at ten 4DX theaters.  The $5 million animated film went on to gross over $62.8 million in the box office making it a major box office success in 2015.

And the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The film begins with Frieza’s army featuring Commander Sorbet knowing how bad things are without their leader.  But with their Intel which shows that Bulma was not the only human that has the technology to find Dragon Balls, Commander Sorbet and his crew go to Earth in hopes of reviving Frieza by finding Pulaf, Mai and Shu who are in the process of collecting Dragon Balls.

As Sorbet uses the Dragon Ball to revive Frieza, Frieza is briefed on how powerful Son Goku has become, even beating Majin Boo, that he will trained to become even more powerful and will exact his revenge.

As news has traveled throughout space, Jaco the Galactic Patrolman travels to Earth to warn Bulma that Frieza has returned.  But Goku and Vegeta are gone and are training on Beerus’ planet with Whis.  Which leaves Gohan, Piccolo, Krillin, Master Roshi, Tien Shinhan and Jaco to take on Frieza and his soldiers.

As the Z Warriors are not powerful enough to take on Frieza, Bulma sends a distress message to Goku and Vegeta, but are both men ready to take on this newly trained Frieza?


VIDEO & AUDIO

It’s important to note that if you want the best video and audio quality of “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”, the Blu-ray is the way to go.  As for the DVD, picture quality is very good (as the best it can get on DVD).  Colors are vibrant, the English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack features crisp and clear dialogue and music, while there are good use of the surround channels on both soundtracks.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features that came with “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”.


I happened to be in Japan during the promotion of “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” and there was no doubt, a lot of excitement for the movie.  The battle between Goku and Frieza was one of the biggest anime battles of all time and while there have been many battles showcased on the “Dragon Ball Z” anime series.

I watched the Goku vs. Frieza arc when it first was broadcasted in Japan and was also reading the Japanese “Shonen Jump”, so I was really into these characters and storyline at that time.

So, I have to say that when I found out that Frieza was being revived, while it does make sense, part of me was hoping that the storyline of Frieza’s death would be left alone.  As we saw how the storyline in relation to Frieza was played out with his older brother Cooler, for the fifth and sixth movies, there was part of me that wanted to see the Frieza storyline to be left in the past and new villains to be focused on from here on in.

With “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”, Frieza has been revived and after hearing of how Goku has gotten popular, Frieza decides to train for the first time in his life and has now become even stronger and can achieve “Golden Frieza” mode.  And now, a more powerful Goku and Vegeta must take on an even more powerful Frieza, but can they do it?

As a “Dragon Ball” fan, one of the positives of this latest film is to see all Z Warriors making their appearance but one of the biggest surprises for me was to see the Galactic Patrolman, JACO in the film.  Having read Akira Toriyama’s JACO one-shot manga (as the manga series shows a relation to Bulma’s family, moreso with her older sister, Tights), it was wonderful to finally seeing this character animated and utilized in a “Dragon Ball Z” film.

But of course, when you have a story that focuses on Frieza, one can expect an intense battle and for the most part, the storyline doesn’t disappoint when it comes to action.  But part of the excitement in the past, is that Goku and friends are often pushed to the extreme because the situation is quite dire and we see an intense buildup with many episodes in order to have the ultimate battle between Goku and an antagonist.  With a film, there is no true buildup, it’s just a fight and then it’s all over in 95 minutes.

Not to say that it’s bad without the buildup but that’s what made the battles between Goku vs. Piccolo, Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, Majin Boo so exciting! Otherwise, the animated “Dragon Ball Z” films are often quick, popcorn action animated films and are not as satisfying as its TV series counterpart.

When it comes to DBZ animated films, my barometer of best story is the fifth film, “Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan” and have felt the Broly-related DBZ films were so much fun to watch, as didn’t feel rushed.

With “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F'”, the animated film tries to incorporate so many characters and this ongoing bickering between Goku and Vegeta was a bit much.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy the animated film and really, to have Frieza as the main antagonist for a DBZ film is huge.  So, I had no doubt in my mind that with the resurrection of Frieza, Toei Animation were no doubt wanting to go big with an international release.  And for the most part, it paid off as the film did remarkably well in box offices worldwide.

As for the DVD, as mentioned, you will definitely want to go with the Blu-ray release if you want the best video and audio quality.  But on DVD, picture quality is good as it can get on DVD.  Colors are vibrant and the voice acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done!  The only drag about this DVD release is the lack of special features (aside from FUnimation trailers).

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” manages to maintain the “Dragon Ball Z” animated film via popcorn action consistency.  With a story focused on all-out action and the usual comedy, featuring the return of the Z Warriors taking on a more powerful Frieza, “Dragon Ball Z” fans will be no doubt be excited for this animated film!

If you are a DBZ fan, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” is recommended!

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

September 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

tokyoghoul

For those wanting a dark, violent and action-packed anime series, “Tokyo Ghoul: The Complete Series” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Tokyo Ghoul: The Complete Series

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080pHigh Definition, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: Suggested 17 and Up

Release Date: September 22, 2015


Originally Created by Sui Ishida

Directed by Shuhei Morita

Series Composition by Chuji Mikasano

Screenplay by Chuji Mikasano

Music by Yutaka Yamada

Character Design by Kazuhiro Miwa

Anime Production by Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Natsuki Hanae/Ken Kaneki as Ken Kaneki

Sora Amamiya/Brina Palencia as Tōka Kirishima

Ayahi Takagaki/Jamie Marchi as Itori

Kana Hanazawa/Monica Rial as Rize Kamishiro

Katsuyuki Konishi/Mike McFarland as Kōtarō Amon

Mamoru Miyano/J. Michael Tatum as Shū Tsukiyama

Rintarou Nishi/Christopher R. Sabat as Jason

Shintarō Asanuma/Eric Vale as Nishiki Nishio

Sumire Morohoshi/Lara Woodhull as Hinami Fueguchi

Takahiro Sakurai/Aaron Roberts as Uta

Takayuki Sugo/Sean Hennigan as Yoshimura

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Clifford Chapin as Hideyoshi Nagachika

Yūichi Nakamura/Phil Parsons as Renji Yomo


In modern day Tokyo, society lives in fear of Ghouls: mysterious creatures who look exactly like humans, yet hunger insatiably for their flesh. None of this matters to Ken Kaneki, a bookish and ordinary young man, until a dark and violent encounter turns him into the first ever Ghoul-human half breed. Trapped between two worlds, Ken must survive the violent conflicts of warring Ghoul factions, while attempting to learn more about Ghoul society, his newfound powers, and the fine line between man and monster.


Back in 2011, Sui Ishida created the hit manga series “Tokyo Ghoul” which was featured on Shueisha’s “Weekly Young Jump”.

In 2014, a 12-episode anime series adaptation by studio Pierrot aired on Tokyo MX, followed by a second season featuring 12-episodes titled “Tokyo Ghoul √A“, which is an original story which aired in Japan from Jan. through March 2015.

And now the first season of “Tokyo Ghoul” will be released by FUNimation in Sept. 2015.

The anime series is directed by Shuhei Morita (“Coicent”, “Possessions”) and features a screenplay by Chuji Mikasano.  Music composition is by Yutaka Yamada and character designs are by Kazuhiro Miwa (who worked in key animation for series such as “Bleach”, “Eureka Seven”, “Tokyo Majin”).

Set in Tokyo, Japan, the story of “Tokyo Ghoul” is set during a time when many mysterious and grizzly murders are happening throughout Japan due to monsters known as ghouls.

Monsters known as “Ghouls” like to eat human flesh and have the ability to change themselves to look human.

We are introduced to college students, Ken Kaneki and his friend Hide.

Kaneki is a big fan of horror novels and he often goes to a cafe to see another girl named Rize Kamishiro who likes horror novels.  And because of their similar taste in authors, the two go out on their first date.

And while the date is going very well, things suddenly take a turn when Rize reveals herself to be a ghoul.

Taking a bite out of Kaneki and impaling him and preparing for the final kill, out of nowhere, a metal beam falls from above and crushes Rize.

As the two are taken to the doctor, the doctor avoids waiting for family donors and takes Rize’s organs and transplants it into Kaneki.

As Kaneki heals and is lucky to be alive, he begins to notice that every food he eats and tastes is terrible.  He can’t understand why until he learns that ghouls have that similar problem and he knows that the only way to satisfy his hunger is to kill and eat human flesh, which he will never do, as he intends to maintain his humanity.

He realizes that he has become a ghoul (with one eye showing that he is a ghoul), while he also is human.  But he thirsts for eating humans but rather not do that.

As other ghouls taunt him for his weakness and his inability to eat humans, one ghoul starts to threaten Hide, Ken’s best friend.

What will Ken do about it?


 

VIDEO:

“Tokyo Ghoul” is presented in 1080p High Definition and for the most part, studio Pierrot has done a fine job with the anime adaptation of Sui Ishida’s series.  Characters and environments are well-shaded, but for the most part, the violence of the series is captured including the emotion of a character’s face.  The series tends to utilize a lot of closeups, but for the most part, background art well-detailed.  I didn’t notice any major artifacts during my viewing of the series or any major banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Tokyo Ghoul” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  While the voice talent on the Japanese end is well-done, watching it in English, I have to say that voice actor Austin Tindle did a magnificent job playing Ken Kaneki.  Kaneki has to go through a lot of emotions each episode, especially the final episode of season 1, it required tremendous emotion from the character and Tindle delivered!  But the English dub is well-done!

While dialogue and music are crystal clear, there are moments that utilize the surround channels.  But for the most part, the most memorable in terms of the lossless audio are the more emotional moments (as there are plenty), because this series gets uber-violent!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tokyo Ghoul: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 4 Commentary – Featuring commentary by ADR Director Mike McFarland, voice talent Austin Tindle (voice of Kaneki), Brina Palencia (voice of Kirishima) and J. Michael Tatum (voice of Tsukiyama).
  • Kaneki in Black and White – (27:42) ADR Director Mike McFarland, Assistant Director J. Michael Tatum (voice of Tsukiyama), voice talent Austin Tindle (voice of Kaneki), Brina Palencia (voice of Kirishima) discuss their characters and the series.
  • Episode 12 Commentary – Featuring commentary by ADR Director Mike McFarland, voice talent Monica Rial (voice of Rize), Austin Tindle (voice of Kaneki) and Christopher R. Sabat (voice of Yamori).
  • Japanese Commercials – (2:12) The original Japanese TV commercials for “Tokyo Ghoul”.
  • Promotional Videos – (2:34) Japanese promotional video for “Tokyo Ghoul”.
  • Preview Collection – (6:22) A hilarious collection of “next episode” previews (in Japanese with English subtitles).
  • U.S. Trailer
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Tokyo Ghoul: The Complete Series” comes with both Blu-ray and DVD discs for the first season.


 

Having read Sui Ishida’s manga series, “Tokyo Ghoul” is no doubt a violent, action-packed anime series that was well-adapted by studio Pierrot.

Featuring all emotion and violence of the manga series and magnified by terrific voice acting by both Natsuki Hanae and Austin Tindle (the Japanese and English dub voice actor for Kaneki), they really did a magnificent job of bring the character of Kaneki alive and it’s what makes the anime series truly work!

The series revolves around teenager Ken Kaneki who falls for a girl named Rize, who happens to be a ghoul.  She wants to devour him, takes a bite and as she is about to kill him, steel beams fall on both of them.  While Rize is dead, Kaneki is saved by a doctor who transplants Rize’s organs into Kaneki and thus turning him into a One-eyed Ghoul.

But as Kaneki tries to keep his humanity and thinking that Ghoul’s are just savage monsters, he befriends a few Ghouls who take him in, understands his hunger for human blood but also understanding his unwillingness to accept being a Ghoul and not wanting to be like them.

But the more he hangs out with the Ghoul’s, the more he stars to learn about the Doves, humans that are no different from savage ghouls that want to eliminate all ghouls.

The first season is a perfect introduction to the characters but also showing us how Kaneki is throughout every major moment after being turned into a ghoul.  For the most part, he is a whiny, good boy.  But when he is put into the situation of trying to make choices of using his ghoul powers, his fear and unwillingness to turn into a ghoul ends up being a detriment to others.

And things start to go downhill for him, unless he makes the decision to accept what he has become.

The series requires Kaneki to become emotional and that is where having the right voice talent becomes important.  And while the Japanese soundtrack features great voice acting, because I prefer a 5.1 lossless track, I went with FUNimation’s English dub soundtrack and Austin Tindle, Brina Palencia, J. Michael Tatum and Monica Rial did a magnificent job.  While the series is not super-immersive via the lossless soundtrack, the soundtrack is crystal clear when it comes to dialogue and music.

In terms of picture quality, studio Pierrot did a very good job as characters are well-animated, art backgrounds are detailed.  But for the most part, the anime series does a good job of complimenting Sui Ishida’s original manga series.

As for the special features, you get two audio commentaries with the ADR Director and English voice dub talent, a video interview with the voice talent and ADR director and also the Japanese commercials and previews.

It’s important to emphasize that this anime series is very violent and those who do not like dark or bloody anime series may want to be aware of that.

Overall, for those wanting a dark, violent and action-packed anime series, “Tokyo Ghoul: The Complete Series” is highly recommended!

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition (Movie 14) (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

dbz-movie14

 “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” is an animated film that “Dragon Ball” fans have hoped of happening for 17 years, but is it the best “Dragon Ball” film ever made? The answer is no. But I do feel that “Battle of the Gods” was exciting for the fact that the film had “Dragon Ball” creator, Akira Toriyama’s involvement and that he tried to feature as many characters from the series as possible. A fun and entertaining “Dragon Ball Z” animated film!  If you are a fan of the manga/anime series, then “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition (Movie 14)

DURATION: Theatrical Cut (1:25:15), Uncut Version (1:45:10)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV14

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Original Creator: Akira Toriyama

Director: Masahiro Hosoda

Story: Akira Toriyama

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Character Design: Akira Toriyama

Art Director: Hiroshi Kato, Hirotsugu Kakoi

Art Design: Hiroshi Kato

Produced by Gyarmath Bogdan, Rioko Tominaga

Anime Production: Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Destruction God Beerus

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Wiss

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Son Goten

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Aya Hirano/Justin Cook as Dende

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Jouji Yanami as Kaio-sama/Narrator

Kôzô Shioya/Josh Martin as Buu

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-Sen’nin (Master Roshi)

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Kuririn

Miki Itou/Meredith McCoy as Android 18

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Tohru Furuya as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unshou Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Yuko Minaguchi/Kara Edwards as Videl

Eiko Yamada/Colleen Cllinkenbeard as Mai

Jouji Yanami as Dr. Briefs

Kaori Matsumoto as Police woman

Kenji Utsumi as Shenlong

Naoki Tatsuta as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Brina Palencia as Puar

Ryouichi Tanaka as Old Kaioshin

Ryûzaburô Ôtomo as Gyuu Mao

Shigeru Chiba/Chuck Huber as Pilaf

Shinichi Karube as Sushi Seller

Shoko Nakagawa as Yogen Gyo

Takahiro Fujimoto as Bubbles

Tesshô Genda as Shuu

Youko Kawanami as Bulma’s Mother

Yuji Mitsuya as Kibitoshin

Following the events of the Dragon Ball Z television series, after the defeat of Majin Buu, a new power awakens and threatens humanity. Beerus, an ancient and powerful God of Destruction, searches for Goku after hearing rumors of the Saiyan warrior who defeated Frieza. Realizing the threat Beerus poses to their home planet, the Z-fighters must find a way to stop him before it’s too late. Only Goku, humanity’s last hope, can ascend to the level of a legendary Super Saiyan God and stop Beerus from destroying Earth, and possibly the entire universe!

In 2013, the 14th “Dragon Ball Z” film (the 18th “Dragon Ball” film overall) titled “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” premiered in theaters in Japan.

The first “Dragon Ball” movie in 17 years, “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” is the first film in the movie series that was created as part of the “Dragon Ball” canon and is set during the time skip in chapter 517.  It was also a film in which the original creator, Akira Toriyama was involved and now, the film will make its first appearance on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of FUNimation.

The film features Beerus, the God of Destruction, being awakened by Whis from a long slumber.

With Beerus awakened, this has caused distress for many, including Kaio-sama (King Kai), who tries to keep the existence of Beerus as a secret and knowing that if Son Goku finds out, Goku would do anything to fight him as Goku has always wanted to be the most powerful person in the world.

As Goku is on Planet being trained by Kaio-sama, back on Earth, the Z Warriors are celebrating the birthday of Bulma and everyone is having fun.

On the day that Beerus and Whis come to visit Kaio-sama, in search of the God of Planet Saiyajin, Goku meets Beerus and challenges him to a duel.  Beerus allows for it to happen and gives Goku a chance to fight him with all his power.

But even at Level 3 Saiyan, Goku is easily defeated with two blows.

Meanwhile, Beerus the Destroyer heads to Earth in search of the Super Saiyan God and Kaoio-sama sends a message to Vegeta to protect his friends as Goku was easily beaten with two punches.

But to Vegeta’s surprise, Beerus arrives and interrupts the party and as the Z Warriors fears the destruction of Earth, can the Z Warriors fight against the powerful Beerus?

As Goku tries to learn how he can beat a God, he learns from Shenglong that the power of six pure-hearted Saiyans can help him reach the Super Saiyan God form.  But can Goku defeat Beerus, the god of destruction?

VIDEO:

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  As expected from a newer “Dragon Ball Z” film, the colors are vibrant and there is also good use of CG for coloring and shading for background art but also buildings/castles.  Picture quality is sharp and the film looks fantastic in HD!

With that being said, I do feel there is a major difference from the cell-shaded “Dragon Ball Z” films in terms of background art and cell shading, but I do feel the older “Dragon Ball Z” films had something magical in terms of background art and cell work.  But this latest animated film does showcase the vibrant colors in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is presented in Japanese and English Master Audio 5.1. with English subtitles.  Dialogue and the film’s musical soundtrack is crystal clear and there are no signs of crackling or hiss during my viewing of the film.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition″ comes with the following special features:

  • Behind the Scenes: Battle of Voice Actors – (9:53) A look at the American English dub actors at the studio doing various scenes from the film.
  • The Voices of Dragon Ball Z: Unveiled – (19:22) Featuring the American English dub actors of “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods”.
  • Textless Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailers – “Dragon ball Z” trailers
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

For many of us that read or watched “Dragon Ball”, many of us have wondered if Akira Toriyama would bring fans a new “Dragon Ball” story.

Of course, a few years ago, fans were given a chance to see “Dragon Ball” remastered and made into “Dragon Ball Kai” with new bits of animation.  But fans have wanted to see these characters come back into animated form, not just for video game sake.

And in 2013, the first “Dragon Ball” film to be release in Japan in 17 years, was released in Japan with major PR buildup, especially all over Tokyo, with exhibitions to Kentucky Fried Chicken leading the charge of “Dragon Ball” swag.

Here we are in 2014 and “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” has now made its way to America on Blu-ray via an extended edition which includes the theatrical version of the animated film and a 20-minute longer uncut version.

I typically don’t put too much into “Dragon Ball” films, for this one, it was an exception as Akira Toriyama has said its part of the series’ canon and also, for any fan of the series, you can’t help but be excited to see everyone reunite once again!

While I did enjoy “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” as a fan of the series, I was hoping for more focus on the action rather than a story that tries to bring out every character.

Yes, we get mega action as Goku takes on the god of destruction, Beerus but we also get the comedy that we have typically seen in a “Dragon Ball Z” filler episode.

Aside from the battle, we also get Emperor Pilaf, Shu and Mai trying to steal the Dragon Balls.  Gohan donning the Super Saiyaman outfit once again, Gotenks and Trunks doing the fusion combo and while Trunks tries to impress Gotenks and his mother that he is dating the very short but 40-something year-old Mai, for those wanting some of that comedy will be happy, while those used to the action-driven storyline may find the film straying too far from the action.

But sometimes the comedy is a bit too cheesy.  For example, I found it ridiculous that Beerus was getting jealous of Buu over pudding cups and then all the Z Warriors taking him on and not getting very far.

But when the film does get to the action, especially seeing Vegeta going all out against Beerus, you can’t help but be excited to see Vegeta and also Goku kicking some major butt!

While the extended uncut version of the film is included, I felt the theatrical version was much better because the uncut version just went too long.  I watched the uncut version first and felt part of the story needed trimming down and fortunately, for the theatrical cut, they made the necessary 20-minutes of cuts that was needed.

As for the Blu-ray release, the film looked absolutely vibrant and is full of color.  This is the cleanest, sharpest and most colorful “Dragon Ball Z” animated film yet and it looks great on Blu-ray!  Also, both lossless soundtracks are very good and both acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done!  While there are no major Japanese featurettes included on the Blu-ray release, you do get two English dub FUNimation featurettes.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” is an animated film that “Dragon Ball” fans have hoped of happening for 17 years, but is it the best “Dragon Ball” film ever made?  The answer is no.   But I do feel that “Battle of the Gods” was exciting for the fact that the film had “Dragon Ball” creator, Akira Toriyama’s involvement and that he tried to feature as many characters from the series as possible.

A fun and entertaining “Dragon Ball Z” animated film!  If you are a fan of the manga/anime series, then “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is recommended!

Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

fairytail-v5

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is a sexually-charged, darker version of the world of Lupin the III but focusing on the femme fatale, Fujiko Mine.  Featuring a unique presentation for an anime series and edgier, sensual storyline more faithful to Monkey Punch’s manga, longtime fans of Lupin the III will no doubt enjoy this series.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 13 Episodes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: August 20, 2013

Originally Created by Monkey Punch

Directed by Sayo Yamamoto

Series Composition by Mari Okada

Music by Naruyoshi Kikuchi

Character Design by Takeshi Koieke

Art Director: Seiki Tamura

Art Design by Takashi Miyano

Anime Production: po10tial, TMS Entertainment

Featuring the following voice talent:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Fujiko Mine

Daisuke Namikawa/Mike McFarland as Goemon Ishikawa XIII

Kanichi Kurita/Sonny Strait as Arsene Lupin III

Kiyoshi Kobayashi/Christopher R. Sabat as Daisuke Jigen

Kanji Kodate as Count Luis Yew Armied

Katsumi Chou as Owl Head

Kouichi Yamadera/Richard Epcar as Inspector Zenigata

Yuuki Kaji/Josh Grelle as Oscar

She’s a thief. A killer. A saint and a scandal. She’s whatever you need her to be to get the job done. After sizing you up with one sinful glance, she disarms you with a touch. You’re powerless to resist. She’s walking seduction, with an insatiable itch for the priceless and a fetish for mischief. She takes your breath away to get what she wants. She takes everything else just because she can. It’s all in a night’s work for the woman called Fujiko Mine. She’s the slinky, sultry thread that holds Lupin III’s crew together – and this is the heist that started it all.

In Japan, “Lupin III” is one of the most appreciated manga franchises that still continues in Japan for nearly 50 years.

Originally created back in 1967 by Monkey Punch and first appearing in Weekly Manga Action, the popular manga series has have had many manga, anime TV series, five animated feature films, a live actoin film, three OVA’s and many specials including music CD soundtracks, video games and a musical.

“Lupin III” is about Arsene Lupin III, the world’s greatest thief.  But what makes this thief so different from other thieves is the fact that he sends a calling card to owners of the items he plans to steal.  And over the years, we have watched Lupin III and his allies such as Daisuke Jigen (the marksman), Goemon Ishikawa XIII (the master swordsman) and Fujiko Mine (femme fatale) taking on various missions while being pursued by police inspector Koichi Zenigata of ICPO.

In 2012, TMS Entertainment and Po10tial wanted to create an anime series but this time focused on the femme fatale Fujiko Mine and how she met Lupin III, Daisuke Jigen and Goemon Ishikawa XIII.  The series marks the first time that Lupin was not the main protagonist, the series is more faithful to the manga by featuring  a darker and serious story and also a series in which a Lupin series was directed by a female, Sayo Yamamoto (“Michiko and Hatchin”, “Galaxy Angel”, “ERgo PRoxy”, Texhnolyze”).  The series is also written by a female, Mari Okada (“AKB0048”, “Angel Tales”, “Black Butler”, “Black Rock Shooter”).

The series features music by Naruyoshi Kikuchi (“.hack//Legend of the Twilight”), character designs by Takeshi Koike (“Afro Samurai”, “Trava”, “World Record”) and art direction by Seiki Tamura (“Bakuju Gasshin Ziguru Hazeru”, “Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya”, “K-ON!”).

The 13-episode sereis focuses on Fujiko Mine, a deadly thief who takes on a variety of missions in disguise to get whatever she wants.  “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” also shows how Fujiko met Lupin the III, Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Ishikawa XIII and Koichi Zenigata.

VIDEO:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is one of the most unique anime series that I have watched when it comes to animation.  Featuring a manga sketched out character design and backgrounds, you really don’t come across anime series that try to be this visually creative in an artistic type of way.  So, in many ways, to see the anime series done in this style is quite refreshing and also unique.  With that being said, it’s not an anime series that one would go search for vibrant colors or excessive detail as a lot of the artwork is line-art via sketch.  While colors for characters and their face and clothing are nicely painted, buildings or vehicles tend to have this matted look.

But it’s hard to criticize a series that looks much different from other series.  Black levels are nice and deep, I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts.  If anything, for an artistic and creative anime series, “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” looks very good in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0.  The lossless audio may not be immersive but the dialogue and music are crystal clear and sound fantastic. As one would expect with the English dub receiving the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, the dynamic range is much better with the English dub.  But both soundtracks are very good and well-acted.

While I grew up watching “Lupin the Third” back in the ’90s via its original Japanese presentation I eventually started listening to the English dub and my foray into Sonny Strait’s work as Lupin.  But watching “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”, Michelle Ruff literally won me over with her voice of Fujiko.

While there are many female voice actresses that can sound seductive, sexy, independent or strong, somehow voice actress Michelle Ruff really gets into the character of the femme fatale.  And for this series, you need to be at your best and she rocked it!  Amazing voice dub performance!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” features the following special features:

  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Brina Palencia (Co-ADR Director) and Josh Grelle (voice of Oscar).
  • Episode 9 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Christopher Sabat (Co-ADR Director) with Sonny Strait (voice of Lupin III).
  • Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine Cast Reunion – (26:34) Featuring Richard Epcar (Zenigata), Mike McFarland (Goemon), Michelle Ruff (Fujiko Mine), Sonny Strait (Lupin) and Christopher Sabat (Co-ADR Director)
  • Fujiko Mine at OkraTron 5000 – (5:46) Michelle Ruff visiting OkraTron 5000 Studios and talking about playing the character of Fujiko Mine.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

EXTRAS:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” Blu-ray also comes with the DVD version.

I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunities to watch the Lupin films, to meet creator Monkey Punch and also to be around when these special or films were released in Japan.  Growing up as an anime fan during the ’90s, “Lupin the Third” was well-received by anime fans at the time and it’s been awhile since I have seen anything Lupin related.

So, as a fan of the series, I was very excited to watch “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”, a series focusing on the sexy femme fatale and also starring all the other characters that we have seen in the past.

But this series is rather interesting because of its presentation, its edginess but also how Fujiko Mine is portrayed.

This is a woman who calls her own shots, doesn’t need a man to get things done, she is deadly and she gets what she wants.

But it’s probably the most mature presentation I have seen of Fujiko Mine in an anime series.  From the opening theme alone, she is fully nude and is probably the most mature opening theme for an animated TV series that I have ever seen.  It is important to note that because of the sexuality of the series and the nudity featured, the show was broadcasted in Japan at 1:29 a.m.

She’s not afraid of her sexuality, she’s not afraid to walk around nude in front of people and many of the guys that cross her path are taken by her.  Especially Lupin who seeks to conquer Fujiko Mine but finds her to be ravishing and lusts after her.  He knows she is deadly, using him but he sees her as a one of a kind rarity and loves when he is around her.

But we also get to know more about the woman and her tragic past and what drives her to do the things that she does.

The series is also fascinating because it shows how she met Lupin, Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Isikawa XIII and how she has this close relationship with Koichi Zenigata and why Oscar (Zenigata’s assistant) despises her.  And also learning about this mysterious owl investigation that has been watching over her for some apparent reason.

As mentioned earlier, the presentation of “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is fantastic! As a storyline that tries to be more faithful to the manga in terms of a darker storyline, it also features characters and art backgrounds that look like they came out of a page of a manga.  Sketched out, featuring line art and a unique presentation that you don’t see with anime series.

Also, I like the fact that the series is directed and written by a woman.  I think there are some who would think by looking at the opening theme and the use of sexuality that this is some man’s perspective of trying to sexualize a popular character of a well-known anime series but that is not the case.

Both Japanese and English soundtracks were well-done but as one can expect from the English receive the 5.1 lossless soundtrack, the dynamic range is much better with the English dub.  And I have to say that I was pleased that FUNimation tried to bring back the original cast but also bringing back Sonny Strait as Lupin III.  But I was very impressed with Michelle Ruff’s voice acting for Fujiko Mine.  She literally put her voice and it embodied the character and giving one of the best performances I have heard from her.  I was very impressed with her voice acting and her ability to switch from going seductive, manipulative to emotionally losing i, she was able to put herself in the shoes of Fujiko Mine and was amazing!

You also get a few special features from audio commentaries plus a cast reunion included on the Blu-ray as well.

Overall, “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is a sexually-charged, darker version of the world of Lupin the III but focusing on the femme fatale, Fujiko Mine.  Featuring a unique presentation for an anime series and edgier, sensual storyline more faithful to Monkey Punch’s manga, longtime fans of Lupin the III will no doubt enjoy this series.  Recommended!

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